Oak barrels are the key to aging any fine wine. The oak is important because it imparts certain flavors and characteristics to the wine. Some white wines, notably Chardonnay, and most red wines are aged in oak, for approximately 6 to 18 months depending on type of grape, style of wine and preference of the winemaker. The type of oak barrel selected can be as important a decision as any in the wine making process. The two principal barrel types are made from either American or French oak.American oak is known for its stronger, woodier quality, while French is said to have more delicate, subtle character. The location and climate of each oak forest as well as the method employed in ‘toasting’ the oak also

add to variations in the hundreds of types of barrels available to the winemaker. A given barrel can only be used for about 3-5 years before its flavor is spent. California wineries often rotate a given wine between French and American, younger or older barrels, as their own particular style dictates.



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