POSTED ON August 8, 2014 | IN Wine Photo of the Day | BY Joe Becerra
Making huge wine barrels at Rodney Strong in the Russian River Valley

Making huge wine barrels at Rodney Strong in the Russian River Valley

About these huge wine barrels

On Wednesday of this week we had a very nice visit with Mark Ketcham, proprietor of Ketcham Vineyards in the Russian River Valley. There were ten of us tasting Pinot Noir wines in Mark’s spacious home. After our visit it was lunch time, and the closest winery with a picnic area was Rodney Strong. Rodney Strong has a lovely outdoor area. It is a great spot for lunch and the Rodney Strong Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are ideal wines for a lunch time snack on a summer day. Inside the winery, there is a walkway that encircles the tasting room, and visitors can view the wine cellar. As you can see in the photo, these huge barrels were being constructed. Loud, to say the least, was the noise level as these barrels were being put together. It was a treat to see the barrel crew work. The staves go up side-by-side and are then strapped tightly. If a stave is out of place, a large wooden mallet is used to pound it back to a tight fit. Then the newly finished barrel is filled with water (I assume) and the the staves swell together. Later, of course, grape juice will go into these huge wine barrels. I asked two different tasting room gents if they knew the gallon size of the barrels and also asked how the barrels would be used in the production of wine. Neither one could give me a definitive answer; they work in the tasting room and are not winemakers. Maybe on my next visit, the barrels will be in use, and I can get the real dope on these huge wine barrels. I am guessing that these barrels hold about 15,000 to 20,000 gallons of wine. They are definitely neutral oak, so perhaps the wine is to be aged only a short period of time. Anyone out there know exactly how these wine barrels are to be used?

Rodney Strong is open daily to visitors, 10am to 5pm, and I am guessing the barrel construction will go on for a few more days. If you want to visit other wineries near Rodney Strong, take the Old Redwood Road Wine Trail.