Thursday, April 11, 2013

Barrels from Oregon Barrel Works

As I mentioned in the post A Change or Two in Plans, my father had wanted to get involved with my vinegar making and somehow found Oregon Barrel Works. Through some phone calls he commissioned Rick DeFerrari to create 2, 15 gallon vinegar barrels; one made of French oak and one made of Oregon oak.

The work I wanted done was specific and finally, through some emails, phone calls, and tough decisions, the barrels were  finished and in route to my front door. I admit I grew impatient at times, as the process took roughly 3 months, but upon the arrival of the 2 works of art, I was reminded of just who I was dealing with, and what I had ultimately received. These barrels were handcrafted for my needs by an artist in the Pacific Northwest's only cooperage.

Oregon Barrel Works is not a small operation that primarily produces random oak barrels for hobbyists and home fermenting enthusiasts. Working closely with the wine industry and major winemakers, they practice authentic and old world cooperage traditions, handcrafting beautiful Oregon, Hungarian & French oak barrels, wooden tanks and other fermenting and aging systems. With such a reputable business and high demand it is a great honor to now have 2 pieces of their work in my possession, adding history and character to my fermented gems.

As I spoke with Rick back in November 2012, he mentioned to me how he had produced smaller barrels and orders for upstart businesses, wine and vinegar makers like myself. He was interested to take on the personal project among all of his other large, international commitments. He took the time and concern to correspond with me about my personal and specific needs from my barrels. He made custom changes to the barrels always ensuring that my desires were met while the integrity of his craft and the barrels were not diminished.

We were all so excited to unwrap the much anticipated oak barrels daddy had been so worked up about.

For all Elliott knew these were some new toys that came for him.

This is not to say that he wouldn't get the chance to play with them.

Rick worked closely with me to give me the desired opening, lid and spigot for my purposes. He granted me a full opening in the top of my barrels making a custom lid. This allows me to view and maintain my fermenting and mothers as they progressed.

He granted me the choice of not using a food safe glue for the lid and intead joined it together and routed a snug fit for the opening. This would allow me to minimize as much foreign materials used in making my barrels.
After some consideration of which vinegar would be created in my new barrels a decision was made. The Oregon Oak would add it's American nuances to my apple variety and the French Oak would lend it's legacy of charm to my Blackstrap vinegar.

I was proud to be able to christen my Oregon Oak barrel with my reserved batch of Apple Vinegar from 2012. Next I would add the gallons of apple cider I had begun in late December and early January. Perfect timing.

By April 7th I have roughly 10 gallons of apple vinegar fermenting in Oregon Oak. Every time I remove the lid to peek in a warm and humid invisible cloud envelops me. A beautiful mother is continuing to form as the rich smell of toasted oak mingles with the aroma of souring fruit alcohol.

If you would like to learn more about Oregon Barrel Works, go to;

Here is the link to Rick DeFerrari's blog;

If you would like to shop the selection of vinegar I have hand made and have for sale, visit-

Entropy the Shop found on

1 comment:

  1. Nice post. Oak Barrels are useful as they are small in size and easy to maintain. Oak barrels are available for aging.

    Wooden Barrel