Sheldon Haynie
September 18, 2012 | Cellaring, Harvest | Sheldon Haynie

New skills and even more new tools

One of the necessary items for making wine is a container to do it in. We use French Oak barrels by preference, and choose to buy used ones and supplement with convection toasted oak inserts, as its both more economical and allows us to tailor the oak exposure. 

Since we buy the barrels used, they are empty when purchased, and may have been empty for a while. Usually that is no issue, if they have been gassed or had sulphur burned inside every 6 weeks or so. However if they have been left empty and were allowed to sit outside in the hot sun, then they can start to dry out. This results in the seams opening up. 

Not per se a huge issue, its the experience of every Northern wooden boat owner that their craft will leak in the spring when re-launched until it swells up. And so it is with barrels. We soak them, depending on the leak rate by simply filling, or if they are particularly weepy, by sitting in a bath of water to allow them to take up the moisture they need. 

Occasionally a barrel will sit long enough that the hoops become slack, and that is where the new tools and skills come in. We've ordered a "hoop driver" and cooperage supplies to allow us to tighten the hoops which hold the staves. The supplies include wedges and splies which fill in leakage paths and also coopers nails which hold the hoops in place. 

I'm looking forwards to re-working the few barrels that seem to need some attention and learning another archaic skill. 



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