Saturday, October 22, 2005

REAL Toasted Oak for the Wine

Oak chips, beans and the like definitely have their place in home winemaking. But this year, we're going to get a bit adventurous. I've secured a collection of used staves (ie, slats) from a french oak barrel that's already been used for a couple of seasons of red-winemaking in Sonoma. The staves I secured were retrieved from Tonnellerie Remond Burgundian French oak barrels previously used by St. Francis winery. (I bought these from Ron Travis. You can find him on Ebay as "barrelcreation" or on email as ronncandy (at ) sbcglobal (dot ) net. )

Now, don't leap to conclusions. You can't just cut these down to size and throw them into your carboys. The winery discarded these because the red wine seeped sufficiently deep into the pores of the wood to render the barrel neutral, or useless for further oaking.

The secret though, is that wine staves used to make wine barrels are at least twice as thick as the depth that the wine can ever penetrate.

So our approach is that we are going to plane the wood staves to remove all of the wine-infused wood, plane the outside part of the stave to clean it of the metal strap residue and any accumulated dirt, then split and toast the staves.

In this posting, you see photos of the package of wine staves, and the planer I used to attack the inner and outer surfaces of each stave. Hard work. Whew.


  1. That's clever! It does look like a lot of hard work though.

  2. Not so bad. Does more for the biceps than blogging!

  3. Hm, I see you point but blogging makes for agile fingers... and as an ardent blogger I carry my laptop with me everywhere, which goes some way towards upper-body work-out.