Oak Ovals-The King of Wine Barrels

Post by John Metzcar, Assistant Winemaker

We just finished putting the last of our 2010 dry reds into barrels for aging and maturation.  This year, in addition to our typical barrel aging program, we began an experiment with large barrels…very large barrels.  We will be aging our 2010 Zinfandel and 2010 Merlot in beautiful, handmade, 1585 gallon French oak barrels (or ovals as we like to call them).

We have two of these oak ovals. They live in our cellar and can be seen on our weekend tours.


Now, why would you want to deal with these behemoth barrels/ovals?  Well, there are  a couple of reasons.

First, wines age differently in different sized containers – merlot in a 60 gallon barrel will age differently than in a 70 gallon barrel, which will age differently than in a 1585 gallon oak oval.  Our hope is that these large format barrels will develop tannins more slowly and give us something slightly different than maturation in a 70 gallon barrel.  Thus, the oak ovals will provide a new tool for our red wine program.

Second, it really changes our barrel management strategy for the Zin and Merlot.  Our oak ovals are the equivalent volume to almost 23 of our more typical 70 gallon oak barrels.  Instead of tracking, tasting, and topping 23 barrels, we can keep our focus on one tank of wine for the whole aging process.

A regular 70 gallon barrel looks tiny compared to the oak oval.


Finally, they are just great to look at!

So beautiful!

6 thoughts on “Oak Ovals-The King of Wine Barrels

  1. Randy R.

    Wow! Do you ever sell any of your used 70 gal barrels? Looking for a good one for my new wine cellar to use as a tasting table for my Oliver Red Zins and Cabs.


    • oliverwinery

      We don’t currently sell any of our used oak barrels. They tend to get recycled into half barrel planters for our landscape crew. Happy hunting though, I bet one would make a beautiful addition to your cellar.


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