Perhaps not a question you have asked. But it is actually quite a complicated process that still today relies to a great extend on manual craft skills.
We recently visited a cooper, Tonnellerie Gillet, in Burgundy as part of a vineyard tour in the region and Gillet showed us exactly how it’s done: how you cut the staves, how to assemble the barrique (try and figure it out!), how to toast it (la chauffe – burning a fire inside) etc. Come with us on a wine tour to Burgundy if you’re interested to learn more, or watch this video that shows you how a wine barrel is made.
Tonnellerie Claude Gillet (cooperage) shows us how a cooper creates a barrel. An oak wine barrel (barrique, pièce) is made: from oak planks; cutting them in shape, assembling the staves (planks) to a barrel, putting on the metal hoops that keep the barrique (if it’s the “Bordeaux size” of 225 litres. Pièce if it’s the together Burgundian 228 litre barrel) together, toasting it, i.e. burning the interior, called ‘chauffe’ in French to give it the characteristics required, and putting the final touches to it. Tonnellerie Claude Gillet is based in Saint Romain in the heart of Burgundy, France.
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