Making a Wine Barrel

Making a Wine Barrel, Houston Texas Party Bus

Making a Wine Barrel

When we need a bottle of fine wine, most of us know where to go. We certainly have a certain “go to” for dinner parties, the bottle that always gets rave reviews from guests. Before it was ever bottled, it’s likely that the wine you love spent some aging time in an oak barrel.

Finding out about the barrel making method is quite exciting. Coopering is a skill that’s acquired over time, with a master cooper having to learn each step, beginning to end. While it’s true that most barrel making locations today are largely (if not completely) machine operated, some businesses still aim to follow more traditional methods for the process.

If you’ve do not seen how a barrel is prepared, you might wonder how they get the wood to flex to make the standard oval shape, or why a barrel is put over a fire when it’s being constructed. It’s an appealing process to find out about, and here’s a quick breakdown of how it’s done.

Initially, the wood is milled and cut into staves. Each piece is generally wider in the center and tapered at the edges (as opposed to being thick like a 2″ X4″). Once these staves are cut, they need time to age and cure a bit so that the flavor they impart to the wine is matured.

Once the staves are all set for use, they are installed around the inside of a metal ring, closely together on top, and widening at the bottom (note: think about a teepee). The pieces at the top are also equalized and smoothed out to form a flat surface.

After the staves are fitted around the top hoop, the barrel is placed over a fire at the wider end. The wood is moistened to prevent the barrel from catching fire, to create the smoky effect that really helps flavor the barrel, and the combination of the moisture and heat makes the wood pliable.

Once pliable, the barrel is secured at the base, gradually bringing the staves together at the bottom and making the round oval form in the middle. As the staves are brought in, another hoop is placed at the base to hold them in effect and safeguard the shape.

Two bungholes are cut, contrary of each other, into the sides of the barrel, and the top and bottom of the barrel are cut and fitted in, taking little metal levers to get them into the grooves, tight and snug.

Once that part is finished, the cosmetic finishing touches are all that’s left. The rings are taken off, first one side, and then the other, making the wood surface beautiful by sanding it down.

Once the barrel is sanded and smooth, final finishing hoops are implemented and the barrel maker’s badge is stamped or etched into the bottom of the barrel. At last, the barrel is wrapped in plastic, all set to be shipped to wherever it’s going.

It may sound simple, there are a lot of steps to go through and lots of manual labor in the process of getting a barrel from start to finish. If you’re interested in watching this process to see how it’s done, check out these two clips on YouTube. The first is a quick start-to-finish briefing, and the second is a longer documentary that enables you learn more about the process with commentary from a French cooper in Napa Valley.

And hey … if you like to expand your knowledge of growing grapes and enjoy tasting various varieties, call and schedule a wine tour with us today. If you’ve never experienced this type of tour for yourself, we can ascertain you that it won’t disappoint!