Oak Barrels - Care and Maintenance

Re-hydrating New Barrels

New barrels are fabricated from dried wood and must be re-hydrated before first use. Completely fill the barrel with room temperature water. Initially, new barrels will rapidly leak until the wood has swelled from the water absorption. New barrels will typically leak for a few days to a few weeks.

Barrel Conditioning

Once the barrel has stopped leaking, it should be conditioned to remove excessive tannin.

  1. Fill the empty barrel with a solution of Barolkleen mixed at of a ratio of 1 lb Barolkleen* per 5 gallons luke warm water. Do not use hot water. Allow the barrel to soak for 3 to 7 days.
  2. Drain the barrel and flush 3 to 4 times with water.
  3. Neutralize and remaining Barolkleen by rinsing the barrel with an acidic solution consisting of 2 oz sulfite crystals, 1 oz citric acid and 2 gallons of water. Splash all surfaces.
  4. Drain the acidic solution and rinse well with water. The barrel may now be filled with wine.
  5. Treat small new barrels (5 to 10 gallons) with 2 to 3 applications of Barolkleen.

*Warning: be careful when handling Barolkleen. Barolkleen contains lye, which in its concentrated form is extremely caustic. Be wary of getting the powder on your fingers and rubbing your eye, etc.

Barrel Storage

When your barrel is not full of wine, it is important to keep the barrel hydrated to prevent drying and bacterial contamination. Fill the barrel with a sanitizing solution by mixing 1 tbs. sulfite crystals and 2 tsp. citric acid or acid blend per 5 gallons of water. Replace the solution every 3 months.