Our recycled wine barrels are mostly from fine red wines from Northern California wine growing regions, and “used up” after a few vintages at the winery. Newly coopered, a wine barrel may cost $1,000 or more, depending on size and source. We buy our fromused barrels various wholesalers, as well as direct from the winery, and break them down to use for parts to use in our furnishings. For example, a single wine barrel may make one Adirondack chair.
No part of the barrel goes unused; the hoops are used for art, such as a peace sign, and we use hoop pieces for brackets to support many furniture items, such as chairs. The tops are the only flat pieces in a barrel, which we use for lazy susan’s and small tables. Being “used up” barrels, the wood has a two tone appearance, with the outside part of the wood having a grainy oak, and the inside having a red color, which is from the wine soaking in the barrel. For example, an Adirondack chair will have the curved inside portion on the seat and back, which are nicely curved to the shape of your butt and back.
People are often surprised by the comfort of our chairs! The other aspect of recycled barrel furniture is the rustic nature of the wood. Barrels are moved about the winery, and have marks and dings that add character to the finished piece. The character marks are typically on the outside of the barrel.
We begin the making process by breaking down a barrel to its parts. Once the staves are selected for a piece, we start by planing the outside wood, then use an orbital sander to smooth the surface. We use steel screws with many furnishings, which are then patched with a latex wood patch. The final step is a light sanding using a vibrating and hand sanding.
Once made, the piece is stained with a high quality Varathane stain, and finished with a polyurethane varnish, which add Ultra Violet protection and helps with wear and tear. One important note: wood furniture does not perform well left out in the weather. Despite others who claim their wine barrel furniture will hold up to weather due to their using coats and coats of marine spar varnish, they won’t last left out for more than a season or two. Wine barrel wood is saturated with color and tannin’s from the wine residue, which can leech out, and ultimately reduce the life of your finished piece. We have tested our products in the weather, and caution that if they are left out you can expect leeching and dis-colorization of the furniture. You can expect to refinish your furniture annually if left out in the elements. Additionally, the joints in furniture, with screws and patch, will deteriorate when exposed to moisture, which will shorten the life of your finished piece. We highly recommend that you move your wood furniture indoors or under cover, especially in the rainy season.
To that end, we have tested a permeable furniture cover that is affordable and easy to use. After spending the winter outside under cover our chairs tested showed no material deterioration. The covers come on and off easily, and will protect your investment. They also make larger covers for tables and benches.