Part II: The Radoux Cooperage (What We Talk About When We Talk About Wine)


In Part II of our 2013 Ridge Vineyards Sommelier Symposium Video Series, you’ll join our Somms as they experience Sonoma’s famed Radoux Cooperage.

We at Ridge are quite well-known for  our attention to our barrel program, and the close relationships we build with our coopers. Thus, no comprehensive visit to Ridge would be complete without a tour of the Radoux facilities.

Please enjoy an inside look at the inside of Radoux, the inside of #RidgeSomms, and the next installment of What We Talk About When We Talk About Wine (WWTAWWTAW) …


Ridge is also quite known for our predominant devotion to American Oak barrels. Here is winemaker Eric Baugher on the subject of French vs. American Oak:

“The key difference, as I’ve understood, French oak is considerably less dense. The porosity and void space in between cells is greater than American oak and thus the wine has greater extractive surface area.  The French oak specie also contains about 10 times the concentration of ellagotannin compared to American specie, thus providing a wine greater tannin structure.  American oak, by contrast, contains tylose within the cellular matrix.  This fills in the void space and decreases the extractive surface.  As a result, American oak has a higher density, slower extraction, and a clove/nutmeg type spiciness.   It’s also sweeter wood, containing about 5 times more complex 5-carbon carbohydrates  and therefore a sweetness can also develop within wine aged in American oak cooperage.

The variety of experiences you describe in tasting American oak has much to do with the coopering selection of fine grain versus coarse grain staves in assembling their barrels.  Another factor is the oak terroir, air-drying time and location, as well as coopering skills in bending staves and toasting.  All these factors can greatly affect the integration of American oak flavors into wine.   Poorly sourced wood, short drying time, and incorrect fire pot temperatures can make an American oak barrel taste planky, crude, and strong in dill and coconut shavings.   The reason our American oak barrels perform so well, is that we take the time to work hand-in-hand with the coopers to specify forest, seasoning time, selection of fine grain, and toast level.   We also carefully balance percentages of new oak and older cooperage, and match to the wine’s concentration.”


Please stay tuned for new additions to WWTAWWTAW, and for more about #RidgeSomms, please follow this link:


Finally, deep bows to the very fine folks at Radoux; for hosting us, and for being our partner.

Categories: Events, History, Offerings, Social Media, Video, Vineyards, Viticultural Salmagundi, Wine Quotes, Wine Tales, Winemaking

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1 reply

  1. Radoux represents the leading edge in wine maturation tech. I would be totally juiced to see up close what Ridge has done in its cellars with this outstanding tonellerie.

    Sent from my HTC EVO 4G LTE exclusively from Sprint

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