FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000

Oak Barrels

French oak revolutionized the storage and aging of wine, particularly reds. In the 1950s, following the example of winemakers in France, California vintners began experimenting with storing their red wines in small oak barrels instead of large casks, discovering that the barrels concentrated the flavors and aromas.  Most California winemakers adopted this technique, and while French oak is still preferred, some have found that American-grown oaks lend a different but pleasing character to wine.

Wand for filling barrels, 1990s

Gift of Warren and Barbara Winiarski

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Barrel tracking sheet

This sheet tracks the history of the wine aged in this barrel before bottling. Other data recorded by the winery included the precise location where the grapes were grown, the sugar level at harvest, and technical information about the fermentation process. Gift of Warren and Barbara Winiarski.

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Gloria Ceballos topping off barrels, 1997

Gloria Ceballos topping off barrels, 1997

NMAH Archives Center AC0816-0000028