The advantage of the company is the full circle of wine production: From personal vineyards, to cooper workshop where barrels are made, to the production of wine of top-notch quality.
The wine cellar of the Company has the capacity of 22.5 million liters, whereas the capacity of the cellar for beverage such as cognac is 15 million liters, from which 6 million is in oak barrels (12,000 oak barrels of 500 l for ripening of distillate), which makes it one of the largest wood cellars in Europe.
In 1958, for the aging purposes of first Vinjak quantities, 200 barrels were procured, made of high-quality Slavonian oak in Lumber Company Spačva near Vinkovac, followed by the establishment of cooperage in Rubin in 1959. Well-known cooper craftsman, Božidar Zornić Džida, created the first series of barrels by using the finest oak as working material, procured in villages bellow the Homolje mountain. Space bellow the grand cellar started to fill with oak barrels where Vinjak was aging, and with time the image had become quite impressive that made Rubin recognizable for it. Hundreds of barrels had been harmoniously lined up, bathed in sunlight which had the beneficial effect for then Vinjak technology.
Even today, 60 years later, hard-working coopers in Rubin have been creating the highest quality barrels where wines and brandies have been aging. In 2017 the manufacturing of customized barrels was launched, thus fulfilling the special requests of external buyers.
PRODUCTION OF WOODEN BARRELS
For each barrel of ours the story begins already in a hundred-year-old oak forest. Our barrel production imperative is the highest quality, which is secured by the complete control of the process – we carefully follow the cycle of oakwood, from the forest up to the finished barrel. We dedicate full attention to each phase: from selection and storing of the oakwood logs in round shape, through the wood processing, manufacturing, storing, drying and selecting the oak staves, to the barrel production and charring. This way we guarantee the highest quality of each of our barrels.
OAK SELECTION AND PROCEDURE WITH ROUND LOG MATERIAL
Our barrels are produced exclusively from Serbian Sessile oak tree (Quercus Sessiliflora or Quercus petraea) considering its rather positive effect on wine and brandy development. We select oaks over 80 years old, and tree cutting is conducted exclusively in the phase of dormancy, during november, december, january. After being cut, oak round log material (logs) is stored at Rubin’s ranch, where the wood is supervised and kept constantly humid, in order to initiate development of desirable microflora and to prevent the growth of harmful one, as well as to avoid cracks.
OAK STALVE PRODUCTION AND STORAGE
After certain time, logs are being cut to shorter pieces that are afterwards split or scraped in order to get the staves (unprocessed boards used for making barrels). Each stave is carved (scraped) out of logs separately, thus protecting log’s fiber construction from being damaged, which results in always getting the first-class staves. Staves are seasoned outdoors from at least two, up to four years, at the most. Weather conditions, constant temperature variations, wind, summer and winter precipitation remove polluters and excessively rough (sour) tannins.
PRODUCTION OF BARRELS
After being naturally seasoned, the staves are additionaly processed – thin, superficial layer is removed, in order to obtain the clear insight of wood’s quality and health condition. After processing and removal of potentially flawed staves, selection is made based on distance between the tree rings, so that the staves with small spacing between the tree rings are being used for wine barell production, while the staves with large spacing between tree rings are being used for brandy barrel production and wine distillate. After selecting the staves processing method – while respecting centuries of tradition, coopers (barrel makers) shape the staves so that they are widest in the middle while gradually getting narrower towards the ends.
Edges of exact angle are made at the bevels, so when the staves are brought together and curved into shape they form a cylinder. Then, over the one end of formed staves a strong steel hoop is set. Now, the staves must be bent in order to form the barrels – a barrel is positioned above the fire in order to warm the wood. During the heating, interior of barrel is moistened with water, where the wood is practically being steamed and softened, in order to protect the staves from cracking. Then, around the lower part of staves (wide part) a rope or cable is tied, in order to tighten the staves and bend them into the well-known barrel shape. Once the barrel is bent to the recognizable shape, additional temporary hoops are installed. Permanent galvanized hoops are installed later. In this phase, the barrel remains open from both sides.
At the interior of shaped barrel, from both sides, a groove is carved in order to receive the edges of wooden (oak’s) cover, later on during the process. Covers are manufactured out of the oak stave parts, with thin cane placed between them (typha) used for sealing, in order to prevent the leaks of wine or brandy from the barrels.
Before the cover is placed, the barrel is toasted (thermally treated) – again is placed above the fire (oak batten flame) and slightly charred from the inside. Depending on what kind of barrel was ordered by the winemaker, treatment duration (charring) will be longer or shorter.
This phase of production is given a special attention here in Rubin and is approached with utmost precision. Depending on the ordering party’s request, we have clearly defined treatments that provide the following degrees of toasting (charring):
- light toast,
- medium toast,
- medium plus toast,
- heavy toast
Treatment duration, i.e. the flame intensity and temperature, are strictly controlled through thermal probes which are fixed on the two spots within the barrel. Correctly conducted thermal treatment (toasting) creates certain aromas in the wood, that are adding and enriching the character of the wine and brandy during aging process in the barrels.
FINAL PROCEEDINGS IN BARREL PRODUCTION
After toasting is finished, the cover is installed, and can be toasted (charred) as well, depending on the ordering party’s demand. The barrel is then being sanded (polished), new galvanised hoops are placed, the opening is drilled (bunghole), the vapour pressure testing is conducted in order to check if the barrel is properly sealed, and after the quality control is finished, each barrel is being packed and delivered in the protective packaging.