Where does our oak wood for the barrels come from - or how does wood submission work ?!
Where does the valuable oak wood actually come from, which we first carefully cut into staves and then let dry for years until we can actually process it into a barrel?
In times of climate change and increasing drought in our forests, this is a very sensitive issue which must be approached with care, reverence and always with sustainability in mind.
Submissions - Auctions
We only process timber from suppliers – as a rule, these are state and private forestry operations that usually join the respective state forestry offices of the individual federal states in marketing the value timber. The particularly valuable deciduous trees and conifers are marketed centrally at the value timber stockyards, which can be found in almost all forested regions.
In Germany, this is done by means of public undercover bids, i.e. auctions. Usually in winter, during the vegetation phase, anyone interested can ask the respective organisers to send them the current bidding lists and then the auction starts…
In search of THE logs
After receiving the catalogues, I go to the timber yards of the republic – always looking for the ideal log for our project.
So in the winter half-year I sometimes see tens of thousands of oak logs, sometimes chestnut, wild cherry, robinia, mulberry and walnut trees, sometimes even bog oak.
My fellow bidders come from the veneer industry, from large cooperages in France and regional solid wood joineries – we know each other and we appreciate each other, even if we are competitors in the price war.
It goes without saying that the system of hidden auctions, combined with a high demand for oak wood, ensures the best revenues for the sellers, which is why the price of oak wood has risen by leaps and bounds in the last decade.
Leaving the commercial aspects aside, such auctions are interesting and at the same time inspire awe. It is not uncommon for us to examine trunks that are a quarter of a millennium old and were rejuvenated or even planted in Napoleon’s time. Timber is a generational business and needs to be regulated to stop wild harvesting and uncontrolled felling.
Sustainability means ensuring that for every tree that is felled, sufficient new trees are planted to enable future generations to use the forest. All this must be done in the light of the latest climate change findings.
By the way, mature trees are released for felling according to their age, future prospects and the environment – this is where the responsible forester is called upon to manage his forest in the interest of several generations.
After the successful purchase of the oak logs, we are allowed to remove the wood from the forest from the value wood yards and bring it to our sawmill in Bad Dürkheim, where the large logs are then cut into stave dimensions.
I prefer to buy oak logs from the German low mountain ranges and especially from our home region, the Palatinate Forest, which is based on red sandstone and whose trees grow very slowly and thus very finely – ideal for making valuable large oak barrels for wines and spirits.