There is a surprising amount of variety when it comes to oak barrels. There are different sizes, capacities, and looks. There are barrels sold expressly for use in making your own wine, hard cider, and other fermented beverages, and there are barrels sold for display only. There are barrels that are cut in half for planters, and those with shelves inserted for wine bottles. In short, there isn't much you could think to do with an oak barrel that someone else hasn't already found a use for and put on the market. Good news for you when you want one!
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Search for oak barrels on the Internet, specifying the use (e.g., "oak barrel for wine rack"), and price barrels from different sites. As of December 2009, the price points are around £19 for a 1 litre barrel up to £65 and more for 20 litre barrels. One company sells a barrel wine rack for £519! If you're looking for a barrel to use for fermentation, oaksbarerelsltd.com has a fine selection that is reasonably priced.
Use instructions on the site to place your order once you've found the barrel you're looking for. Many barrel sites are independent retailers and accept credit cards and PayPal.
You may want to research used or "green" barrels. Many discarded barrels from wineries and vineyards are available online. Be sure to contact the seller and find the out the condition of the barrel before you buy. If you want to cut it in half to make a display piece, it may be the perfect option. If you want to use it to make your own wine, it's important to know what was in it before you take ownership.
Do research online first to find the prices for barrels with the capacity you're looking for.
Visit or call a winery or vineyard, and ask the proprietor about their sources for barrels; they may be able to point you to a good supplier that can beat the prices of online vendors, particularly if you will be buying in bulk.
Buy from a winery or vineyard itself. Most buy barrels in bulk for a discount, and they may have a few extra on hand they're willing to sell you. If you want to stay "green," ask for used barrels.
Buying in Person
Tips and warnings
- When shopping online, don't forget to inquire about return policies before you make a purchase.
- When buying in person, gently and kindly see if you can get a reduction in price; often times it is possible.
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