Barrel Prep

New barrel preparation for immediate use

Method One:

  1. Fill the barrel with 20 gallons of cold water and leave barrel to stand on one head for 12 hours.
  2. Flip barrel onto other head and let stand for 12 hours.
  3. Empty the barrel, then rinse once with fresh water and allow to drain completely.

Method Two:

  1. Fill the barrel with 5 gallons of hot water over 175°F and tighten the bung in place.
  2. With the barrel standing on end, rotate the barrel on its head a minimum of two complete rotations. Flip barrel and repeat on other head.
  3. Place the barrel horizontal on its bilge and rock from side to side while slowly rotating the barrel to get complete coverage with hot water. Continue rocking & rotation motion for four complete barrel revolutions.
  4. Remove the bung and allow barrel to drain completely.

For extended storage of new barrels

  1. Unless off-aromas are detected in packaging material leave the barrel wrapped in its plastic and cardboard.
  2. Optimal barrel storage occurs under the following conditions:
    • Storage environment with 70-80% humidity.
    • Limited UV exposure, i.e. low light conditions.
    • Relatively still environment, i.e. no moving air currents.


Cleaning and storage of used wine barrels

  1. To clean the barrel, winemakers have several options including hot water barrel
    jet nozzles, Ozone machines, Sodium Percarbonate rinses, citric acid washes, and soda
    ash washes. Each procedure has its uses. Normally we prefer the less chemical usage route
    of hot water jet nozzles such as Gamajet, or the Tom Beard system. Our experience with
    ozone cleaning is not vast but we feel its usage is increasing. The standard suggested
    process with ozonated water is to first perform a hot water rinse until the water runs
    clear, followed by a three plus minute rinse with ozonated water. A sodium percarbonate
    wash (Proxycarb™) is the best option for cleaning of off-flavors. Citric acid washes are
    used to neutralize residual chemicals. Soda ash washes are primarily used to remove
    tartrates but are generally considered a harsh barrel treatment.
  2. Once the barrel has been cleaned allow the barrel to dry completely on a rack with
    the bunghole facing down.
  3. Once dry, burn 10-20 grams of sulfur wick per barrel, or if using gas inject
    SO2 for 3-5 seconds per barrel. Place either a paper cup, wooden bung, or a silicone
    bung wrapped in saran-wrap in the bunghole.
  4. Check sulfur levels every 3-4 weeks and re-sulfur as necessary.