Curious how the wine barrels are made?
Last Friday the Trinitas Team visited Demptos Cooperage, who produces the oak barrels we use in our Chardonnay program. Will Jamieson, Master Cooper, was kind enough to give us a tour.
Here are a few things that we learned…
It takes almost as long for the barrel to be made as it does most wines. Good oak is air dried. It needs the optimum amount of humidity (too much and it warps, too little it splinters) and heat (too little and it takes longer, too much and it splinters).
American oak is just as good as French oak! True they are different species, and American oak does cost less, but trust us, the quality is the same. American oak is able to produce more staves per log than French as French oak is more porous and delicate. The grain must be followed exactly – it must be hand split, whereas American oak has tighter grain and can be split with less waste (meaning more barrels produced)
Oak harvesting is not detrimental to the environment. Demptos Cooperage (where we toured) gets their American oak from Missouri forests. If you were to fly over them you would see sustainably managed lush greenery – no clear cutting! As oak trees must be fully mature (think 100 years) to use for barrels, the smaller, younger trees are left alone to grow. The trees that are removed are done so in a strategic way to help prevent overgrowth and forest fires as well.
Also ... the room where the barrels are assembled, bent and toasted, smells amazing!
Bonus fun fact: We use almost all new American Oak barrels on our Chardonnay programs. Check out these wines that receive the benefits of these beautiful American Oak barrels: