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Modern Cooperage Unveils Revolutionary New Barrel Technology at Dutcher Crossing Winery in Dry Creek Valley

Posted on June 12, 2013

HEALDSBURG, CA, June 2013 — Modern Cooperage unveiled a revolutionary new barrel technology at Dutcher Crossing Winery on May 30, 2013. The innovative barrel systems feature a stainless steel barrel with oak-stave interior. The launch featured a blind tasting of trial wines with 17 test partner winemakers.

“Most types of fine wine made in California wineries spend more time in barrel than not,” said Patrick Pickett, Modern Cooperage winemaking consultant. “Oak goes hand and hand in the production of the very best wines. Our barrel systems are designed to be part of a winemaker’s barrel program, as another tool in their quest to make better wines. This tool provides them with a level of control and precision that has never existed before.”

Positive Results in Blind Tasting of Barrel Trials with 17 Winemakers

A blind tasting of 2012 Chardonnay wines from barrel trials with17 different North Coast winemakers, who participated as test partners, produced positive results for the Modern Cooperage barrels:

  • In seven different flights, 17 winemakers tasted a total of 29 wines, consisting of 11 different Modern Cooperage trial barrels against 18 other samples of either comparative new barrels or older control barrels.
  • Modern Cooperage barrel tastings received three first-place votes, two second-place votes and one third-place vote in seven flights of up to six wines. They received 47 percent of the first-place votes; 25 percent of the second and 18 percent of the third.
  • Some of the comments from the winemakers regarding the Modern Cooperage trial Chardonnay wines included: “best overall aroma;” “good oak on the palate;” “nice leesy aromas;” “balance of oak and fruit, bright and citrusy.”

“It is a physically beautiful product—shiny stainless steel and obviously well made,” said Dutcher Crossing winemaker Kerry Damskey. “The resulting wines are fruit forward and show the pedigree of the vineyard terroir.”

Modern Cooperage Barrel Systems Allow Control and Precision Economically

“We are very pleased with the tasting results,” said Jon Roleder, Modern Cooperage founder and innovative design engineer. “Our patented barrel systems allow each winemaker to create their own oak barrel profile in minutes. After the initial cost of the stainless steel barrel, the stave replacement cost is one-tenth that of traditional oak barrels.”

The interior stave rack systems give the winemaker total control and repeatability over their “oak barrel stave recipes.” The lees can be stirred in a circular motion in just seconds without moving the barrels. The winemaker has complete control over the level of oxidation they allow their wines to be exposed to while in barrel. Regular oak barrels have a uniform rate of oxidation that is unchangeable.

Environmental Advantage

“I am very excited about what we offer the wine industry, especially in terms of the environmental advantage,” said Susan Pate, a partner in Modern Cooperage, owner of Pate International, and an established and highly respected innovator in the field of graphic design. She has designed numerous wine labels, including Dutcher Crossing, Harlan Estates, Opus One, and the Robert Mondavi wine packaging for many years, as well as the original idea to eliminate the foil capsule. “I have always been very ecologically minded,” said Pate. ”Only two barrels are made from a single French oak tree. The Modern Cooperage barrel uses a fraction of the oak and can have up to 250 percent of the oak surface area to volume of liquid of a traditional barrel.”


“We feel the tasting showed the great potential that Modern Cooperage barrels can provide winemakers in terms of adding excellent flavors, aromas and positive structural qualities through the ability to control the level of oxidation to their wines and the extra amount of lees stirring,” said Pickett.

“I think the technology has come a long way since the initial idea and there is a significant place for it in the wine industry,” said Debra Mathy, proprietor of Dutcher Crossing Winery.“

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