New Barrel Preparation for Immediate Use
Fil the barrel with 20 gallons of cold water and leave barrel to stand on one head for 12 hours. Flip barrel onto other head and let stand for 12 hours. Empty the barrel, then rinse once with fresh water and allow to drain completely.
Fill the barrel with five gallons of hot water over 175 degrees F and tighten the bung in place. With the barrel standing on end, rotate the barrel on its head a minimum of two complete rotations. Flip barrel and repeat on the other head. Place the barrel horizontally on it bilge and rock from side to side while slowly rotating the barrel to get complete coverage with hot water. Continue rocking and rotation motion for four complete barrel revolutions. Remove the bung and allow barrel to drain completely.
For Extended Storage of New Barrels
Unless off-aromas are detected in packaging material leave the barrel wrapped in its plastic and cardboard.
Optimal barrel storage occurs under the following conditions:
- Storage environment with 70-80% humidity.
- Limited UV exposure (low light conditions).
- Relative still environment (no moving air currents).
Cleaning and Storage of Used Wine Barrels
To clean the barrels, winemakers have several options including hot water barrel jet nozzles, ozone machines, sodium percarbonate rinses, citric acid washes, and soda ash washes. Each procedure has it’s uses. Normally, less chemical treatments like hot water jet nozzles are preferred. Our experience with ozone cleaning is limited, but we sense ozone usage is increasing. The standard suggested process with ozonated water is to first perform a hot water rinse until the water runs clear, followed by three plus minute rinse with ozonated water.
Sodium percarbonate washes (Proxycarb) are the best option for cleaning of off-flavors. Citric acid washes are used to neutralize residual chemicals. Soda ash washes are primarily used to remove tartrates, but these are considered harsh barrel treatments. Once the barrel has been cleaned, allow the barrel to dry completely on a rack with the bunghole facing down.
When your barrel is dry, burn 10-20 grams of sulfur wick per barrel, if using gas, inject SO2 for three to five seconds. Place either a paper cup, wooden shipping bung, or SaranTM wrapped silicone bung in the bunghole.
Check sulfur level every 3-4 weeks and re-sulfur as necessary.