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Portraits Rebecca Teagarden

Scott and Kathy Dennis | They'll toast anytime to their downward spiral

There's a big hole in the floor in Scott and Kathy Dennis' otherwise typical Redmond living room. Big hole. Got a big wooden door on it, too. Can't miss it. It's planted in the middle of the wall-to-wall butterscotch carpeting — near the TV and the grand piano. And Scott and Kathy are all right with that.

They put it there.

Pull the door open, spiral down the stairs and you come eye-to-eye with row upon row of bottles. This is Scott and Kathy Dennis' very own wine silo. It is a wine cellar so unique that they were the first people in this country, and still one of a very few, to even have such a thing.

Scott, biotech geek by day and wine lover by night, gets product in return for helping a winemaker friend. Then there are the wines Scott and Kathy pick up themselves. They like a big red, a dry white, hint of fruit.

Which brings us back to the hole.

Q: Geez. I don't even know what to ask.

Scott: I didn't want to convert a room to this fakey mahogany thing. I get Wine Spectator, and people are sitting there at a picnic table in the wine cellar. I don't really like to have a picnic at 53 degrees.

Q: Oh, wait, I do have a question. Your wife let you do this?

Scott: Yeah, isn't that great?

Q: Hey, I ask the questions here. Isn't that great?

Scott: I'm lucky enough to get to travel to France for work. A friend there had a prefab vault dropped in. I wanted that, but they had no interest in shipping it here. I went to septic-tank installers, but then I found these Spiral Cellar guys on the Internet. I basically begged them and said, "Why don't you try it in Seattle? We've got a great wine region here."

Q: And your wife let you do this?

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Scott: It's built inside a rubber liner and stays about 53 degrees. It took a couple of weeks. They hauled the dirt right out the front window. Pumped in the concrete from there, too.

Q: And your wife let you do this?

Kathy: We went and saw one in France and we thought, "This is cool." It was time to repaint and carpet anyway.

Q: OK, then. So, $35,000-or-so later you've got a real cellar here that goes 12 feet deep and holds 1,600 bottles of wine.

Scott: It's a real commitment, but I was very excited to get something over California, quite frankly.

Check out more subterranean wine cellars at www.spiralcellars.com or e-mail Scott Dennis at skcellars@spiralcellars.com.

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