Barrel Care


We recommend examining both the outside and inside of each barrel upon delivery.  Check the inside for any off or moldy odors and tighten all hoops before proceeding.

PREPARATION FOR WINE:  Tighten all hoops before proceeding !!!

Re-hydration and inspection:

It is important to follow these re-hydration and inspection steps when you are going to fill the barrel immediately with wine.

  1. Fill the barrel with 3-5 gallons of filtered, chlorine-free, hot water. Use the hottest water possible, with 180°F or 82°C the ideal temperature.
  2. Place a silicone bung in bunghole.
  3. Rotate the barrel from side to side, completely wetting the barrel’s interior.
  4. Stand the barrel upright on one head up to 4 hours to completely hydrate the head.
  5. Rotate and stand upright on the other head up to 4 hours repeating the hydration. Ideally, let the barrel soak overnight allowing the barrel to completely swell and absorb moisture before filling.
  6. Check for leakage. If leakage is present, continue the soaking until the leakage stops. If the leakage does not stop after 24 hours, it is important to call Valley Vintner immediately and empty the barrel.

Remember that water should not sit in a barrel for more than 24 hours without sulphur and citric acid. Also, use caution when removing bung due to internal pressure build-up.

Cool, Humid Environment

We recommend that you keep the plastic film on the barrels if you are storing the new barrels for an indefinite time period. Please remember a new barrel must be stored in a cool, humid environment at your winery to maintain its integrity.

Cleaning and Storing between Wine Fills

  1. Barrels must be carefully rinsed with warm water between uses.
  2. Complete dry by draining the water and by placing the bunghole down.
  3. Apply a sulphur treatment to prevent bacterial growth.  You can burn sulpher sticks or use a sulfite solution combining 1/8 cup Potassium Metabisulfate with 1/8 cup Citric Acid per gallon of chlorine free water.  If necessary run your water thru a carbon filter to remove chlorine and/or fluoride.  Fill the barrel until you cover 4” or so of the bottom with this solution.  Bung tightly and rotate the barrel regularly to keep hydrated.
  4. Continue storing the barrel in a cool, humid environment.
  5. Repeat these steps monthly!
  6. Rinse the barrel with water prior to refilling with wine and repeat the  re-hydration and inspection steps above.