Wooden barrels, especially oak barrels, have been used since ancient times for aging of the finest wine. However,...
WHY BARRELS AND HOW IT STARTED
Development of barrel-making
Many centuries ago, a great idea of someone led to making the first wooden barrel. Wooden barrels, most often made from white oak wook, were the oldest container used for the storage, transport, and aging of wine and beer. Their great advantage over the relatively fragile clay amphorae used until then was their strength and thus greater durability. Did you know that the Celts transported their sweet wine in barrels as early as in 290 BC? Barrel-making flourished most in the early Middle Ages. Barrels and similar products made from wood have gradually become an integral part of the lives of ordinary people and lay the foundations of the barrel-making trade.
Wooden barrels, which have not changed their shape for thousands of years, have quickly spread all over the world and are still used nowadays. According to some sources, already in ancient Mesopotamia, wooden barrels were used for the transportation and storage of beverages, meat, or vegetables. Today, wooden barrels have a much wider range of application, although they are still mostly used for storage and aging of wine. They are also popular with gardeners and cottage owners, often used as decorative objects or made into furniture and home accessories.
The selection of wood determines the quality
In ancient times, different types of wood were used to make wooden barrels, most often the types that were available in a given area. However, manufacturers quickly found out that there were big differences between various types of wood and their properties. Some types were easier to work with, some were more difficult due to the different strength and brittleness. Each type of wood used had a different effect on the beverage that was then stored in the finished barrel. Time and experience show that white oak is the most suitable type of wood for barrel making due to its fine structure, low content of aromatic resins, high strength, and durability. Other types of wood can be used as well but to a limited extent, and oak is still number one. There are also differences between oak trees from different parts of the world.
How we started to work with barrels
The idea of refurbishing and selling barrels came about by chance when we were looking for an original and interesting side table for the hallway in our newly renovated cottage. In our opinion, the offer in the market was very limited and rather boring and we got an idea that a barrel would be perfect for this purpose. But! When we did get a barrel here, in the Czech Republic, it was either too expensive or in very poor condition, or the seller was unable to ensure the transport. Finally, we found a suitable barrel in the other corner of the country. It occurred to us that there might be more people with a similar problem, so we tried to offer a few barrels for sale and refurbishment through a rummage sale. However, it turned out that the demand was much greater than we had expected. As we have a lot of friends and acquaintances in the Bordeaux and Medoc wine regions and we have been there for several times, we decided to import used oak barrels directly from these regions. One thing led to another and we tried to create a Facebook page for selling bartels, which was a great success. Soon, it was no longer enough and we decided to create our own website and eshop.
What types of barrels we offer
The barrels we offer in our eshop are exclusively barrels made of oak wood. Oak wood has the most suitable properties and acts well in touch with water. This is a key property especially for wooden barrels, which are used for catching rainwater. What is important in the case of rainwater barrels is their ability to be tight and not leak water, and oak wood has this property.
The barrels we refurbish are always wine barrels. Specifically, these are discharged barrels from chateaus, which, according French legislation, can be filled only three times to give the wine a barrique name. After that, the barrels no longer contain enough tannin and are therefore no longer usable for wine storage or aging. We buy such barrels, since their wood is still in perfect condition and the barrels can be used for several more years, and not only in the garden.
Useful lifespan of our barrels and how to ensure it
The lifespan of refurbished oak barrels in the external environment is very long. If you use oak barrels as a water tank, it will last for decades. Maintenance of such a barrel is not demanding, but it is important to follow a few rules. It is essential not to drain the barrel before winter and not to store it in a heated room; otherwise, the wood would start to dry out and the next time the barrel is filled with water it could leak. In most cases, the leaking barrel will contract, the wood will swell and stops leaking. The barrels should thus ideally be left outside in the winter but the water must not freeze; otherwise, it can crack. A few pieces of wood or a half-filled plastic bottle should be placed in the water, which will break the freezing water surface. It is also possible to use table salt - for a two-hundred liter barrel, we recommend using a kilogram of salt, which will dissolve in the water. If you really need or want to store the barrel inside, it must not be in a heated room and the barrel must not be wet because of the risk of mold formation. Moreover, we recommend painting the outside of the oak barrel with natural oil every year, which helps keep the barrel look nice.