Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Oregon Oak Air-Drying

All of our wood for Oregon Oak barrels is air-dried for minimum of 36 months. The wood is stacked outdoors with space left between each stave. The rain along with mold, bacteria and yeast breakdown the tannins of the wood. This air-drying, really weather seasoning yields softer tannins in the wine. The air-drying also eliminates “green” wood flavors.

We have experimented with 18 month, 24 month and 36 month air-drying and have come to the conclusion that Oregon Oak needs at least 36 months. Talk to any one who tried our 18-month air-dried barrels and I think they will agree.

The down side to the extending air-drying, besides tying up a lot of capital, is that each year of season will result in lower yields. Another downside to 36 month air-drying is that we have to make sales projections three years out. Not only how many barrel but also what shape. Staves for Burgundy barrels are cut 90cm; Bordeaux barrels 100cm and 400 liter barrels are cut to 105cm.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Springtime is tank time

Springtime is tank time.
So far for this spring we have eight wooden cuves to refurbish.
These are the first two.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Large format barrels:

As we get ready for the up coming 2010 harvest I can help myself but to challenge the team of coopers here at Oregon Barrel Works (at least that is what I like to call it, they may have a different name for it). For years wineries have inquired about large format barrels, as well as fermentors (I will leave that one alone for now, maybe next year). Well 2010 is the year. Back in 2006 we cut a small amount of Oregon oak staves for 400 liter barrels. We also had our stave supplier in France do the same with French oak. So this year we will be offering both Oregon oak and French oak 400 liter Puncheons.

Oregon Oak staves for 400 liter barrels

It is not just easy as one would think:
o All the wood we use is three year air-dried, thus we have at least three years into the project before we can make barrels.
o The end-trim saw and the inside and outside planer need to be retooled to accommodate the longer lengths and lager diameter.
o The angles on the jointer set for the larger diameters.
o We need larger truss hoops the thick metal hoops we use to form the barrels.
o New larger toasting pots that keep the same height to diameter ratio.
o The crozer, the machine that cuts the chime, howell and chamfer need to be retooled and adjusted the larger size barrel.
o The rounding saw, the saw that cuts the heads, needs to be retooled and adjusted for the larger size barrels.
o New hoop steel flared for the larger diameter and longer in length
o Resetting the hoop press.
o Resetting the barrel sander.

I am sure I left something out, but the point being barrels are not a cookiecutter type project.

Jointing Oregon Oak for 400 liter barrels