About Finger Lakes Barrel Company
I was very fortunate to grow up spending Sundays at my grandparents’ home enjoying the traditional Italian dinner they cooked with great joy and passion. The conversations, as one might expect, often drifted toward wine and cooking. My grandpa would regale us with stories of making wine with his father at his childhood home – recounting the harvesting of the grapes; the crushing and de-stemming of them; the initial fermenting and finally the filling of the oak barrels – and then, the patient waiting as the grapes blended with the oak as the wine aged. The best part of course, was the tapping of the barrel and the first savoring of the fruits of that labor. It all sounded quite exciting, even to a youngster with a long way to go to the legal age of drinking.
After college at UAlbany, I returned to my hometown and once again sat at my grandparent’s table every Sunday and the stories flowed as always but now, they had even more meaning, so my brother and I decided to make a barrel of wine drawing upon my grandpa’s expertise – a traditional Italian Red.
As luck would have it, my grandfather and his friends still had enough old winemaking equipment stored in their cellars and garages so that we could get a start. We ordered grapes and a barrel from our regional farm market and made our first barrel of wine. It was great – the wine and the work!
It was an experience that led me to become a professional winemaker, which I’ve been involved in for many years. At the winery, I began to notice the large number of people who asked about purchasing used barrels. My interest piqued, I began to explore the market in used barrels and discovered that their usage was widespread in a variety of businesses besides winemaking.
Realizing the potential and that I might be on to something unique I approached my Dad, (at the time retired from his woodworking and carpentry business), to see if he would give me a hand.
With his encouragement and assistance, I started the Finger Lakes Barrel Company to source used wine and whiskey barrels for the burgeoning craft beverage industry of brewers, wineries, maple syrup producers, cider makers, and coffee roasters. We also found a demand from nurseries, furniture-makers, landscapers and garden centers that use older barrels for their work.
Since then, we’ve grown from a tiny office and our garage to a warehouse housing thousands of wine and whiskey barrels, which we source directly from California wineries and Kentucky distilleries and sell all over the U.S. and Canada.