From Forrest to the Cellar

Kalina Kádárüzem

The coopers must make ever lasting friends from one side with the wine maker and from the other with the forester. Not accidental that, the credo of the Kalina Cooper Trade is as follows: "For us, the case of the barrel is a matter of trust, so the barrel is the innermost confidental relationship between the cooper and the wine maker." To reach this next to human connections we have the French and American technology, the constant guarantee checking and the education of tradesman abroad. What else should we need?

The most important phases of making barrique barrels

1. Splitting

Kalina Kádárüzem

The blocks are kept in a huge area from autumn to summer. Meanwhile, the process is going on without breaks: this is the splitting. The well chosen blocks are ’tailor-cut’ and splitted with the help of a peg grainline. After splitting, the outer bark and the matter of gut is sawed-off. The result is the most important part of the block, from which the most expensive stave is produced. Staves made like this, are checked one by one and then taken into a cirlce shaped drier.
The carefully chosen, cleaned blocks are splitted by the rays of guts after taking into account the thickness of the stave. Then it becomes a stave, that has high tensile strength and perfect flexibility and naturally is very valuable. From one squere meter block, only about 1 and a half barrel can be made.
I would like to note that during the splitting, an enermous amount of waste is a byproduct, not like in the case of sawing. This latter is perhaps very fashionable and those who do not work with wood praise it. However, if we think about it further, we realise that an oak has to grow till 100-120 years to get a first class block out of it! Forests which mean fresh air and several other organisms’ life stage (deer, wild-boar, birds, bugs, bunnies) are simply robbed by the factories who kill lives. Though, the final form of the stave is shaped by the whip-saw.
While one squere meter sawed block has 35-40% product, the splitted has only 15-18%. The rest is for waste! By energy prices like this, this is a real waste.
I say that, this Earth is not ours. We only borrowed it from our grandchildren!

2. Pyramid – circle heap

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After a newer quality checking, we collect the staves into an airy pyramid shape and we start the minimal 2-years-long drying period. The Sun, wind and rain matures the staves while the tart tannins, esters and unnecessary materials slowly soak by from the wood. According to weather conditions, we check the moisture content. If we have a dry season, the freely set staves are watered by our own drilled well’s water. Around the three-quarter of the year, the staves need turning. The downs are placed up and the ups are placed down. This is necessary to have similar outer effects on each pieces, so that the barrels will reach the same quality.

3. Stave-skirt – robe

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After dismantling the heap, just to make sure we try to select those mistakes that could have been hidden. Then, we cut the staves into their exact size and with a special tool line we work the surface. The ’skirt’, grabbed with two iron work hoop, is pre-fired with oak flame and sprinkled with moisture, then either manually with Zug or with a machine that pulls together the staves’ free bottom end, which actually shapes the barrel. Afterwards comes one of the most significant process, the roasting.

4. Roasting

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This is the essence. Perhaps, the difference of the barrels can be caused by the many ways of roasting next to of course the material.
The fire comes from the byproduct of the splitting. While heating, a laser thermometer measures the outside and inside of the barrel to have the penetration equal. The differently roasted barrel, as previously mentioned, gives other tastes for the wine. The phases are controlled by the time and temperature heights. Colour is not a matter of quantity.

  • Light roasting 180-200° / 30 min. The amount of pigmentation is 0-3 mm.
  • Medium roasting 200-220° / 40 min. The amount of pigmentation is 3-5 mm.
  • Strongly Medium roasting 200-220° / 50 min. The amount of pigmentation is 3-6 mm.
  • Heavy roasting 280-300° / 60 min. The amount of pigmentation is 5-9 mm.
  • Hybrid 280-300° / 30 min. The amount of pigmentation is 3-8 mm.

When taking into the guts of wood, we apply a whip-saw to lightening the staves, which results a more tough surface with a need of a more dinamic roasting process inside the barrel. Consequently, the flames burn the rough surface better than a plain surface which almost resists the flames. In the first case, the barrel’s taste is richer and more effective in the barrel. Its coulur is quite dark, chocolate, brown, black or coal-black.
When we would like to have a plain surface, then we work with a copying lightened stave. So, the barrel’s inside surface is completely plain consequently the flames do not burn the sides and they result very light barrels in matured oak and deer brown colours.

5. The fitting of bottom

Kalina Kádárüzem

The final process, is a refinement process, when at the end of the barrel the roughnesss is polished. With a process called ’gárbolás’, the end of the barrels are aesthetiqually worked out. This results the French or the Hungarian type of ending. The ’ontrázás’ means joining the fitting pieces of the bottom – when the place of the bottom is cut into the two ends of the barrel to make sure of their certain close. We join the two bottoms into the ends. After follows the sides’ joining into the bottom and the topping’s closure.

6. Ironing

Kalina Kádárüzem

After joining, comes the pressure trial to check if leaking appears. Uniformly we check with 2 Bars pressure the liquid proof of the barrels, that is quite a huge amount because if it contains wine, the pressure in only 0,5 Bar. All wine makers must know that however, we can not exclude leaking entirely. I think, we coopers all agree on that: the really good cooper remains under 5-10 %! This is general experience.
On the bottomed and buffed barrels we cut the irons, with an iron cutting machine, according to the size governed number of pieces, then with the help of the iron machine, we put on the crown, the final hoops to their places. We actually iron them ready.
After this, the grinding machine starts spinning and the dazzling light barrels are polished. The ready barrels at the end wait for getting down to the cellars to have in their stomach the wine conceived.

Viewing the barrel’s producing process

Kalina Kádárüzem

For inquiring wine makers and tourist groups we show the ‘barrel making ’ process, where light is brought to the cooper traders’ secrets. There we can be witnesses of how to bend the damn thick oak stove without breaking, how the barrel receives its final round form, how happens the tricky step of putting the bottom of barrel to its place. We can get answers for numberless questions which have occurred so far in our mind. The demonstration takes for 1-2 hours. Time arrangement is necessary »

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