New wine barrels cost a lot of money – high quality oak is in restricted supply and high demand and coopering a barrel is a highly skilled and time-consuming operation. So we have available a lower cost option available for clients who are looking for new barrel characteristics (so no flavours coming from the barrel other than the wood), but at dramatically reduced prices.
We take Portuguese red wine barrels (which we would otherwise refurbish for use in port wine production) and give them a full recondition so that they are ready to be used for wine again. Once wine has been sitting in a barrel for a few years, typically around 3 or 4mm of the wood will become penetrated by the wine; so we shave 5mm off the interior of the barrels, give it a long toast and the char to the customer’s specification.
It is a bit like retreading a tyre to give it another 10,000 kms of life – in this case giving a new lease of life to a wine barrel that was no longer giving up any oak flavour to the wine by sacrificing 5mm of stave thickness. Some wineries are already doing this process with their own barrels, but we offer these barrels that we call STR barrels (Shave Toast Rechar) and the price for a 225 litre barrel is €235 (French or American oak). This compares to our prices for new oak barrels which are €684 for French oak and €489 for European or American oak in size 225 litre.
The STR barrels will always have some indication that they have had a previous life, but we pressure test them to make sure there are no leaks and replace hoops where appropriate. We also give the outside of the barrel a polish to clean it up, so they are very presentable when we have finished with them and they are less than half the price of new oak barrels!