How wine barrels are made

Barrel maturation of wine is an integral part of premium red wine making. All the barrels for Pirathon are 300 litre Hogsheads. We purchase barrels from two main suppliers that make their barrels locally in the Barossa Valley. These businesses have close relationships with French and American stave producers and only source wood of the highest quality.

French oak tends to have more spice characters and provide more structure and tannin.

American oak tends to have more texture and sweetness.

Here is a quick guide to how barrels are produced

  1. The first step to making a barrel is to collect all the wooden staves and line them up. Next the top two hoops are put in place to keep the barrel together. These ar knocked down by hammer.
  2. The barrel is heated to allow more flexibility in the wood so that the base of the barrel can be squeezed together by the metal ropes. Two more hoops are then fitted to the bottom half.
  3. The hoops are then tightened by pushing them down to ensure the rigidity and strength of the barrel
  4. The barrel is toasted according to the customer requirements. Sensors detect exact temperature and timing to ensure the correct toasting and flavour profile is achieved. Toasts are usually categorised into light, medium and heavy toast. The heavier the toast the more charry, smoky flavours you get from the barrel. At Pirathon we tend to mainly use medium toast looking for a nice balance between oak and fruit flavours.
  5. The ends of the barrel are sanded, shaped to allow the heads to be put in and the bung hole cut out
  6. The barrel heads are knocked into place. Note there is no glue, screw or nails in this job. The head is a perfect fit in to the grooves made in the barrel
  7. The barrel is sanded back to look clean ready for sale.
  8. Brand new hoops are fitted and the barrel barcoded for customer and quality checks

  9. After the Quality assurances checks, the barrels are ready for sale.