This year, it’s not drought or wildfires giving winemakers headaches. It’s a shortage of oak barrels this year.
The grape harvest is on in California’s Wine Country, and vintners are scrambling to find enough barrels to start the fermentation. The culprit? The cargo backup at the Port of Oakland.
Between 20,000 and 30,000 oak barrels from France are waiting to be offloaded from container ships in the bay. The typical transit time is 45 days. But now it’s closer to 140 days.
Most red wine, and some whites, like chardonnay need to be aged in oak….the rest in steel tanks.
Wine makers say that the worst-case scenario would be the use of old barrels, which could drastically change the character of some wines.
New barrels from France typically cost $1000 each.