Better than new Barrels
ReCoop Barrels, a Sonoma County-based company, specializes in reconditioning wine barrels, offering a more cost-effective and environmentally sustainable alternative to the traditional practice of retiring and replacing barrels with new oak. This process is not only economically advantageous but also maximizes the utility of the oak, a valuable resource in winemaking that is becoming more scarce and costly.
The effectiveness of ReCoop's patented method lies in its meticulous approach to restoring barrels. Unlike conventional methods such as steaming and power washing, which can push wine sediment deeper into the wood grain and clog pores, ReCoop's process involves carefully removing a precise thickness (between 1/4” and 5/8”) of the barrel's inner surface. This precision ensures that all wine-soaked material is eliminated, maintaining the wood's integrity and allowing it to continue imparting flavor which is the main reason we use barrels to begin with.
Steaming and power washing, while common, are less effective for several reasons. These methods can force wine residues deeper into the wood, reducing the barrel's ability to contribute desirable characteristics to the wine. Furthermore, these methods don't remove the penetrated wood, potentially leading to off flavors due to remnants of the previous contents.
In contrast, ReCoop's patented process includes an additional step of toasting the newly exposed wood. This toasting is conducted with controlled infrared burners, ensuring an even and precise toast that enhances the wood's aromatic qualities. The controlled toasting is superior to traditional center fire pit toasting, offering customizable levels (medium, medium-plus, and heavy) to suit different winemaking requirements.
The sustainability aspect of ReCoop's method is significant. By extending the life of oak barrels, the need for new barrels is reduced, lowering the demand for oak and thereby preserving forest resources. This practice aligns with contemporary environmental concerns, offering a practical solution to reduce waste and promote resource efficiency in the wine industry.
ReCoop's expertise, gained over 40 years in barrel reconditioning, along with their specialized machinery and patented process, sets them apart in the industry. Their approach ensures that the maximum potential of each barrel is harnessed, offering winemakers a high-quality, sustainable, and cost-effective alternative to new oak barrels.
Subscribe to news and updates on our products and services.
While Dry Ice Blasting is praised for its effectiveness in cleaning wine barrels without leaving chemical residues, there are several downsides to consider. Firstly, the intense impact of dry ice particles can push into the pores of the wood, clogging them in the process. This clogging can inhibit the wood's natural ability to interact with the wine, affecting the aging process and flavor development. Additionally, despite claims of preserving the barrel's original toast, the process may actually mask the nuanced flavors imparted by the initial toasting. This could lead to a homogenization of flavors, diminishing the unique character that different toasting levels can provide. Finally, while the process is efficient in removing residues, it may not be as effective in eliminating microbial contaminants deeply ingrained in the wood, which could pose a risk to wine quality. Alternatively ReCoops technology removes a thin layer of wood leaving fresh virgin wood that get's toasted to our customers specifications.
Reconditioning barrels is a more economically and environmentally sustainable practice than simply retiring them and replacing with new oak. When Oak Barrels are restored at our cooperage, you’re doubling the life of the barrel, and bringing your price down to 1/3 of the price of a new barrel. About 85% of a used or neutral barrel being retired from a barrel aging program is unused oak which has not been touched or saturated by the wine despite the long aging. The recoopering process recovers this precious resource for you, giving you access to premium French oak without the premium price.
To achieve this recovery successfully, all of the wine soaked material must be removed prior to toasting again. The proprietary system developed at Recoop® will remove between 1/4” and 5/8” of the inner surface of the barrel, depending on the barrel condition. Experienced coopers ensure that the used barrels are qualified for reconditioning by testing for leakage and signs of VA before the barrels are selected for restoration. With the company’s patented process and machinery you can be confident that all wine-penetrated wood is removed while maintaining the wood’s integrity and allowing the stave to once again contribute its flavor and oxygenation benefits. They have got it down to a beautiful science. Once the barrel is shaved, the cooper will typically use a hand planer for the final details such as the croze (the groove at the end of staves where the head attaches) before hoisting the barrels up onto racks and then toasting with a set of infrared burners. The toast can be achieved at medium, medium-plus and heavy, and the fabulous aromatics released by the wood are perks of toasting.
After the barrel had been toasted and recoopered, the outside of the barrel is mechanically sanded to restore the appearance for its new owner.Experience and Expertise
Other firms that shave barrels by hand might leave wine-saturated wood that could lead to off flavors. ReCoop’s precision equipment and toasting methods ensures the saturated wood has been removed and freshly exposed wood is all that is toasted. ReCoop® has specialized in barrel reconditioning since 1987.
How to Use
For Initial Rehydration: You may like to use the method provided to us by the manager of Recoop. Set the barrel down on its head with the other head face up. With very hot water, fill the face-up head cavity (see picture above). Replace any water in this cavity as it leaks through or swells into the wood. At the same time, you may fill the inside of the barrel up to bung with water to rehydrate. Allow to hydrate for at least an hour or two. Flip the barrel over and repeat on the other side. Viola---the Recoop quick hydration technique!