Did you know that a wine barrel is made out of a tree that is 250 years old?
Lisa and Blair recently spent the day learning about the intensive process of producing a wine barrel and we are happy to report that the high price tag on french oak is worth every penny.
The starting point in barrel construction are the long pieces of oak called the staves. The staves come from the 250 year old tree and only the most perfect pieces are used for wine barrels. The rest of the tree can be used for railroad ties, furniture, etc. Staves spend 2 to 3 years seasoning outside before they are ready to be shaped. As shown above, the staves are then softened with fire. Heat is used to help bend the staves in conjunction with pressure from the metal hoops. After the wood is soft e
nough to bend, a metal wire tightens the bottom of the barrel and more metal ho
ops are hammered on by hand. The barrel is then toasted over a flame. The level of toast matters in terms of the flavor impact on the wine that will be stored in it. The freshly toasted barrel is then sanded, packaged, and shipped to the customer.
We really enjoyed our tour and appreciate learning another aspect of the wine-making process.