How to Make a Wine Barrel


Making a wine barrel is not an easy task to do and normally it is done by wine barrel specialist. However, it is nothing wrong for you to try and learn the art of making a barrel if you have the interest and passion in wanting to know how it is done. The most common wood used to make a wine barrel is the French Oak, where barrels made out of this kind of wood produce tightly-grained wood and are able to impart natural flavors into the wine stored slowly. This will also make the wine integrates better with the oak flavors and aromas.

To make a wine barrel, you need:

  • Oak tree or Oak tree trunk 5 feet in diameter
  • 24 to 36 staves (depending on desired size)
  • Mallet
  • 4 large metal or iron hoops
  • 2 Heads specially cut to size (lids of barrel)
  • Chainsaw
  • Handsaw
  • Sandpaper
  • Sponge
  • Winch

Making a Wine Barrel

How to Make a Wine Barrel

  • First of all, you must look for a French oak tree that must at least be 100 years old and cut it down using a chainsaw, while the minimum size of trunk taken from the oak tree must be approximately 5 feet in diameter.
  • Once you have managed to remove the top of the oak’s tree from the last branch
    • The next thing to do is to hand split the trunk into quarters.
    • The quarters that you have made will form the staves or planks, which are used to form the shape of your barrel.
    • Then, you need to cut the staves based on your desired length and width.
  • Once you have finished creating the staves, you must air dry them at a 15 percent humidity level. This should be done for at least three years in order for you to ensure that the barrel is waterproof.
    • To get a perfect humidity level, you should occasionally add a small amount of water to the staves.

You can only harvest an oak tree that is already one hundred years old and normally when barrel makers have hand split the oak trunk, it must be air dried or exposed to rain, sun or other natural elements for up to two years. This is to create much softer tannins from the wood to be imparted into your stored wine.

  • When the staves have dried thoroughly and it is at its appropriate length
    • You need to taper off the end of the staves.
    • The next thing to do is to slightly hollow out the staves inner side so that the staves would be able to fit securely together in an iron or metal hoops.
  • Then, you have to build a fire for heating and creating the shape of your barrel or making it bendable.
    • After that, you need to place the staves inside the bottom iron hoop before using a sponge enabling you to dampen the staves using water.
    • Next, you must heat your partially constructed barrel without the lids over the fire for approximately 30 minutes

The process of heating up the wine barrels also caramelize the sugar contents inside the wood creating a desirable toasty and vanilla flavor, which will be imparted into the wood, plus also to the wine that you will be storing.

  • Use a winch to gradually arch the staves.
    • By doing this, you will be able to create the curve of your barrel.
    • Next, make sure to secure the staves into the bottom iron hoop by using a mallet.
    • After that, you need to secure the remaining hoops and tighten them.
  • Finally, you need to notch grooves into the flat ends of the staves.
    • This step is to ensure that the staves are able to fit securely onto the barrel lids.
      • if you notice any rough spots as well as the outsight of the barrel

A good wine barrel will be used for at least five years period and once you reach that period, you need to sand the inside of the barrel and can use it again for another five years time. After ten years, it is not suitable anymore to be used for storing wine. It can be recycled as a planter for garden or even make a fragranced coffee table.

Always remember that the most important thing is that the trunk of the tree that you have chosen is insect free and not damaged by them.

  • In order to preserve, maximize wood grain and making your barrel leak proof, the logs need to be carefully hand split.
  • Before you start to store wine inside the barrel you must test the barrel with water.

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