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Omaha Magazine

Cheers from Cava Z: The Zipurskys’ Wine Cellar

May 27, 2021 04:30PM ● By Katy Spratte Joyce
basement-sized wine cellar with portrait backdrop

Photo by Bill Sitzmann

It started with an anniversary trip to the Napa Valley, perhaps the most well-known wine region in the U.S. Sally and Jim Zipursky visited in the summer 1992 to celebrate one year of wedded bliss. There, the couple’s favorite pastime bloomed among the ripening grapes—they became “wine people.”

Today, Sally and Jim get equally excited about a crisp $6 rosé from Trader Joe’s as they do a rare and expensive vintage wine.   

  “We discovered our love of wine together, and it’s grown together,” Jim said. Since that first foray, the couple have traveled to various viticulture hot spots at least once or twice a year for nearly three decades. Destinations as varied as Portugal’s Douro Valley, California’s Sonoma County, Oregon’s famed Willamette Valley, and France’s Loire Valley have welcomed them and furthered their wine education. It was natural to collect wines on these trips, which led the pair to finally create a custom home wine cellar to properly store their worldly finds. 

At this moment, the duo’s expertly crafted basement wine cellar holds 682 bottles. “We’re a little heavy right now,” Sally said with a laugh, sharing that their wine collection tends to build when they aren’t entertaining (thanks to COVID-19). Jim explained that he knew the exact number thanks to Cellar Tracker and Vino Cell, two apps that help wine cellar owners navigate their collections. 

Nicknamed “Cava Z,” a play on “casa” and the couple’s last name, the Zipursky cellar was completed in January 2020. (Cava is also the name of a sparkling Spanish wine that the couple enjoy.) Angela Larsen of Larsen Designs, a regular collaborator on the couple’s Candlewood home throughout 12 years of renovating, was tapped for the project. What resulted is a mix of sleek modern touches, such as a custom concrete table, paired with natural materials, including a cork floor, leather drawer pulls, and a white oak ceiling. Larsen explained, “The space itself is hidden away in the lower level. I wanted the room to be a surprise when the door is opened, and also to pay homage to the wine.” 

A large photo of Sally and Jim taken on their wine-tasting trip to Portugal anchors the cellar space. Larsen said the shot of her clients enjoying themselves on vacation is her favorite design element.

Function was the key focus when working on Cava Z. Though there are two stools and space for wine tasting, the cellar wasn’t really designed to be a destination in itself; it exists primarily to properly store wine, with a not-so-cozy temperature range of 52 to 56 degrees and 55% to 60% humidity. There’s also a chocolate cupboard, since the Zipurskys occasionally enjoy a sweet treat with their vino. Additionally, the cellar offers storage for liquor bottles, freeing up space in the kitchen upstairs. A beverage fridge chills another Portuguese find, Vinho Verde—what Sally nicknamed “the soda pop of white wine”—as well as some sparkling, rosé, and other white wines. Various bottles, mostly from boutique producers who make less than 3,000 cases a year, fill the shelves that line the walls of Cava Z. The couple also stock some kosher wines, a nod to their Jewish faith. 

More recently, the Zipurskys’ love of wine has grown into a family hobby, now that their twin children are grown. Throughout the pandemic, the couple organized virtual family wine tastings. Jim picks the wines, Sally chooses food pairings, and “we’ll sit on Zoom together for hours tasting wine,” she shared. 

And beautiful Cava Z? It’s there at the ready, offering a bevy of beverages for the sophisticated palate until the couple can again travel on their wine adventures.

This article originally appeared in the June 2021 issue of Omaha Home. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.