Friday, December 19, 2014


A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to visit the "factory" where our newest barrels were made - Hoffmeister Barrel Works. It is a small facility that really focuses on handcrafting the barrels with a lot of attention paid to the quality of the barrels.

The barrels take the wine to another level offering a complexity of flavors and smells and bringing an unmatched depth to the wine. During the wine-making process it is a delicate balance to determining how much oak you want to introduce into the wine. Too much can be disastrous and not enough oak may produce a good wine that could have been an incredible wine if held in the casks a bit longer.

Barrels are used in wine making for several reasons. The obvious one is imparting the wood character into the wine. Barrels are made with different oaks, most notably French, American, or Hungarian. The origin of the oak provides a different character to the barrel and the wine and add different aroma compounds like vanilla, spice, and more. Barrels also slowly impart some oxygen into the wine. This subtle bit of oxygen enhances and stabilizes red wine color and will produce wine with a lower astringency and suppleness.

Our first barrel aged wine, our Aspire Reserve Marquette was just recently removed from the barrels after a little over a year of aging. The results are amazing. We entered the wine in the Jefferson Cup Wine Competition in Missouri and it was awarded a Double Gold Medal! We are excited to release this wine in the next couple of weeks. It is truly a meticulously handcrafted wine.

The latest barrels we received  from Hoffmeister will be used for a dry wine made from Seyval Grapes. It is currently residing in the barrels and will do so until mid to late 2015. We will continue to monitor the wine for taste to determine the right time to remove the wine from the barrels. So far it is looking like a wonderful dry wine with some subtle oak hints. It will be a great addition to our lineup.

Here are some photos of our tour of the facility:

The wood that goes into the barrels

The hoops are bent and riveted - 6 per barrel

Working on a barrel end. 

Barrel Ends before they are added to the barrels and finely sanded.
Toasting a barrel.

Fire beneath the barrel during toasting.
The fire rages, toasting the barrel to perfection.

Adding bands to the barrel

Barrel nearly complete - needs 2 more bands and some finish sanding.