Learning How to Build Wine Barrels with Yann, Master Cooper with Barrel Builders

20516_10200355661250693_9123931652686203822_n(Contributed by  Erica Schreckenghaust) In the second installment of our field trip series, we had the honor of going to Barrel Builders, a barrel cooperage, in St. Helena.

About Barrel Builders

Barrel Builders was created in 1972, by a handful of French coopers who were sent over to assist Robert Mondavi’s people in the assembly, finish and care of the barrels. At the time Mondavi was one of the few people to begin using French oak barrels and soon after, their popularity spiraled.

Barrel Builders were the pioneers within the industry as they were the only cooperage represented in the US for years to come. Phil Burton started in the shop and has worked his way up in the company to become the sole owner in 2001.  Today, Barrel Builders is still one of the most popular cooperages in the area making quality barrels, tanks, casks and more.

Our Tour of Barrel Builder’s Workshop

11046768_10200355664330770_4861109673719685346_nOn a sunny Friday afternoon a group of Wine Sense members were given a tour of the shop and facility.  The shop manager Yann taught the students the complicated process of assembling a barrel, the process to prepare the barrels to be filled with wine and the common tools used. Yann is a Master Cooper from France and attended Ecole de Tonnellerie de Cognac, a cooper training college where his final exam required him to build a barrel from scratch in 10 hours. To say that he knows his stuff is an understatement.

The student’s feedback on the trip was excellent and we loved the opportunity to see the behind the scenes of the wonderful containers that hold and develop our favorite beverages.

We owe a huge thank you to Barrel Builders for allowing us to come visit!

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