« It’s not a question of copying another barrel or making one that resembles another.
The cooper aims to find the soul of his barrels. This guarantees the balance between wine and wood », Vincent Darnajou.

  • Beyond the artisanal methods of barrel-making put in place by Vincent Darnajou at his two workshops, each cooper must draw on his five finely-tuned senses in the practice of his barrel-making craft. Always determined to perform at his best, he applies the greatest attention to detail -the hallmark of the Darnajou cooperage.

    “Sensorial skills are important: sense and feeling are notions that are frequently referred to in the workshop”.


    Once the staves have arrived on the site, they undergo numerous checks and are carefully categorised before being methodically and very gently stacked by our teams with constant care in the handling of the material. They are then left in the hands of the elements -the sun, rain and wind- for the natural drying or seasoning process, which lasts several months. At the end of this stage, the oak staves are taken to the preparation workshop, where they are cut to the right length, planed and jointed by our teams as part of their dressing process. 


    The staves, the main components making up the barrel, are then aligned on a raising table. The making of the barrel is therefore begun to the sound of numerous expert taps of the hammer by the cooper who, adjusting the staves one by one, gives the barrel its shape, aided by the barrel-raising hoops.


    “It smells just like recently-baked bread”, say most visitors, with whom the coopers happily share the smells that fill their workshops during the charring stage and which contribute in their way to the warm atmosphere of the place. “Some even detect aromas of jammy fruit and cocoa”. This is the crucial part of the barrel-making process, the moment of revelation. The cooper can now express his own identity; put his stamp, subtly marrying two elements that appear to be complete opposites: fire and water.  The craftsman now gives shape to his  barrel, revealing the fine quality of the meticulously selected oak, enhancing each of its characteristics so it will achieve perfect harmony with the wine it will come into contact with. It is throughout these few minutes that the cooper demonstrates his art and gives his individual touch to the dressed barrel, in keeping with an artisanal method that now takes on the full sense of its term. 


    Once the barrel has been hooped and has acquired its curved shape, it is time for the cooper to adapt the two heads of the barrel. The diameter of these is determined using a compass. The unique aspect of each barrel is further reinforced by these measures, which are never identical for each barrel head. The cooper then uses a tool called a croze to cut the grooves in which the heads, branded with the arms of the cooperage, the year of fabrication and the degree of char, are fitted to ensure that the barrel is air-tight. Then, when the hoops have been tightened further, the barrel is tested for permeability using hot water.


    During this stage, the barrel takes on its definitive shape, both on the outside and inside. The wood’s silky sheen is acquired after a first sand-papering. The hoops used for the raising process, and also used to help the cooper in almost all of the barrel-making steps, are removed to make way for the definitive hoops that are made of galvanised steel. The beauty and the grain pattern of the wood, the nobility of French oak in all its quintessence, brings the final hand-crafted touch once the final sand-papering has been done. In the manner of a master-craftsman, proud of his work of art, the cooper adds his initials on the chimb of the barrel. The second life of these precious oak essences from the centre of France can now begin -in contact with the best wines.


    While all the barrels of our range have strictly the same shape, regardless of their capacity, two types of finishing provide additional features. Apart from the barrique bordelaise ferrée, clients can choose the so-called bordelaise traditionnelle, which features pine crossbars held by chestnut pins to reinforce the barrel heads. These have two chestnut hoops delicately bound with willow reed. The hand-crafted, highly artisanal character of the work adds a premium, decidedly modern character.