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California’s Cave King

Zdravko Terziev designs Old World-inspired cellars for Northern California’s most hard-core wine-and-food DIYers.
Culinary Caves founder Zdravko Terziev’s wine cellar.
Culinary Caves founder Zdravko Terziev’s wine cellar.
Photo © Cindy Charles.

Zdravko Terziev

Born In Varna, Bulgaria

Lives In Marin County, California

Culinary Caves founder, Zdravko Terziev, has two caves of his own at home. One’s for charcuterie and preserved food; the larger one (photo) is for his homemade wine, including a small barrel of port.

Backstory

Ten years ago, Zdravko Terziev was spending his days building architectural models at work and his nights on ambitious DIY food projects like making pancetta, sauerkraut, wine and more. When he started running out of storage room, he remembered exploring the cellar below his grandfather’s house in Bulgaria. “It was such a strange, hidden world,” he says. Inspired, he decided to dig out an unutilized space below his Marin County house, re-creating an Old World design to stash bottles, jars and barrels. Soon a neighbor wanted the same thing, too, then another, and in 2011, Terziev founded Culinary Caves. He now builds out subterranean spaces for DIY cooks and wine collectors around Northern California.

The Caves

Excavated with a backhoe and then supported with masonry, Terziev’s caves naturally maintain a temperature of 55 to 60 degrees. He customizes each one: “I start by asking clients what they want to store. Eggs or apples? Wine or cheese? You really want to keep wine and cheese in different spaces—they need different levels of humidity. And because of molds, you can’t put Brie next to blue cheese.” Priced from $12,000 to $40,000, caves range from spaces too small to stand in to multi-zone complexes decorated with mosaics.

Most Unusual Job

For a customer who didn’t have room underneath his house for a cave, Terziev buried an old metal milk truck in the backyard, converting the rusting vehicle into a root cellar. culinarycaves.com.

Published October 2012
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