Our Projects


From its original premises in the village of Cauroy-les- Hermonville, just to the north-east of Reims the cooperage now serves as many as 1,000 customers, providing them with new barrels, second-hand barrels and a full range of maintenance and repair services. In addition we offer tailor-made creations, wooden boxes and decorative objects related to the craft of the cooper.

Passing On Our Craft

For 10 years we have been working with the Compagnons de Devoir to welcome young apprentices from all over France.

In 2006 and again in 2012, our work at La Tonnellerie was recognised by the Living Heritage award.

Furthermore, in 2007 Denis Saint Arroman received the much sought-after award of Best Craftsman in France.

Sustainable Development

Wood, wind, water and fire: the 4 natural elements we work with and which all play their role in barrel-making, without the need for any artificial additives.

What’s more we deliberately source most of our oak – up to 80% in fact - from two local forests: the forest of Argonne and the forest of La Montagne de Reims. Our purpose is twofold: first, to promote the local forests and second, to offer our customers the advantages of local sourcing and full traceability, both of which are marks of quality and powerful commercial arguments for their oak-aged wines.


For a number of years now La Tonnellerie has welcomed visits by members of the wine trade as well as by groups of tourists from France and overseas.

Welcoming people is an important part of what we do so, in 2012, we created the Gite de la Tonnellerie: it’s a house in the heart of the village that can accommodate up to 10 people and it’s the perfect base from which to discover the Champagne vineyards.

Only the finest wood from the forest

It all starts in the forest: our barrels are made of oak from trees that are at least 120 years old that have a diameter of at least 50cm. We source the majority of our supplies from two local forests (Argonne and La Montagne de Reims) and we also source some oak from other famous French forests.

Barrel making step by step

Barrel-making is a long process comprising many stages in which water, wind and
fire all play a crucial role.

Splitting the trunks

On average, one oak tree provides us with 1.5 m 3 of wood that we can then make into staves.
It takes 10 m 3 of wood to make just 2 m 3 of staves which in turn is enough to make 20 barrels (of between 205 and 228 litre capacity).

Drying the staves

The staves are left out in the open air for 3 – 4 years where the action of the sun and the weather reduces the bitterness and astringency of the wood whilst enhancing its aromas and tone until it reaches perfect maturity. The ultimate objective is to preserve the finesse and elegance of the wines.

Creating the barrels

The staves are then made into smaller pieces called douelles. 30 or so of these are
needed to form the shell of the barrel whilst the top and bottom plates make the
barrel water-tight. Galvanised metal bands keep the staves and the lids in place.
There are 4 stages involved in making the large staves into the smaller douelles:

Ecourtage (cutting to length)
For each given barrel size we first cut the staves into identical lengths: douelles
Dolage (backing)
The outer curve of the douelles is fashioned according to the desired circumference of the barrel to be made.
Creusage (hollowing)
The inside surface of the douelles is then shaped according to the desired interior of the barrel.
Jointage (shaping)
The most delicate operation which consists of adjusting the thickness of the douelles in the middle and at the ends so as to follow the form of the barrel and, by shaping the joints, give a perfectly round and tight finish.


This is another important stage that consists in heating the barrel to make it water-tight. The shell of the barrel is presented in the « en robe » position (sometimes called the Rose position) and once in place, the inside is heated to allow the barrel to be pinched together to make it perfectly water-tight.


Toasting the barrel is a crucial step from the point of view of the wine maker and the toast is adjusted according to whether a very discreet or a more pronounced woody character is wanted in the wine.
Le Bousinage, which is the final phase of the toasting, releases the most silky and elegant aromas in the wood: vanilla, lime blossom, coffee, toast and spices. One of the specialities of La Tonnellerie is the slow, soft toasting we carry out at low temperatures.


In this operation grooves are cut into the chime (lip) of the douelles at both top and bottom, so that the barrel lids fit perfectly.

Making the lids

Lengths of wood are laid out side by side and held in place with stainless steel dowel pins. A thin layer of straw is inserted between each piece to ensure a completely water-tight seal.

Adding the caskheads

The top hoops are removed to loosen the staves. Then we coat the base of the lip of the barrel with a paste made of gluten-free buckwheat, ash and water to ensure the barrel is water-tight.


The barrels are immersed in water to make sure there are no leaks and to wash off any foreign particles that may have become stuck to the sides. The barrel is then thoroughly rinsed and finally it is sanded to leave a smooth surface.

Our Projects

Even before they started the cooperage in 1998 Jérôme Viard and his business partner Denis Saint-Arroman had thought long and hard about what they wanted to create and now they are steadily putting it all into place. It’s a multi-faceted project that’s part business and technology, but which also involves preserving and passing on traditional skills, taking care of the environment and developing tourism.

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