Anne Hubatch of Helioterra and I took a field trip recently to reWine Barrels in Salem, OR. What an interesting visit. reWine is the barrel refurbishing business of father-in-law and master woodworker Todd Dollinger and son-in-law Trent Thomas, a former New Seasons wine buyer among other wine industry experience.
I bought a rehabbed barrel from reWine for the 2009 harvest and I'm buying another one for 2010. I like the idea of recycling barrels. As Todd says emphatically, it doesn't make sense to cut down seriously old French oak trees to make barrels that you use for a few years and turn into planters. Renewing those barrels makes sense. Plus, I like the results I've seen. And the cost doesn't hurt. Rehabbed barrels aren't the same as new barrels, but they're pretty close and cost only a fraction of new wood.
Todd and Trent talked a lot about the process and how they got started in 2009 combining Todd's knowledge of wood and machinery and Trent's experience with the wine industry. We talked about other barrel refurbishers out there who crank out more barrels per day and apparently don't spend nearly the time reWine does in toasting like a new barrel cooper does. reWine's trying to do things differently.
This operation is obviously still very new but already it's impressive to see several local producers buying the product, or bringing their own barrels to get rehabbed like I did this time with my Siruge. It's a bit less expensive to do that. What impresses me most is the wholehearted commitment of Todd and Trent to their work. Todd's fanatic about the process. Trent's all about building long term relationships and making sure reWine is doing everything right to produce excellent barrels. These are people I'm glad to know and do business with. I can't recommend them highly enough. Thanks guys for the great visit.