4:30 in the morning in Germany...
…the alarm clock is ringing. Do you know the feeling when you want to throw the alarm clock against the wall? At half past five in any case 😉
Fortunately there is coffee and with this in mind I make my way to the company to meet my colleagues.
I go to Luxembourg for a cellarage – this means that our coopers will put up large casks in a wine cellar. I myself am allowed to capture the whole thing with a camera. For me the first time and accordingly exciting.
So we meet at just before 6 in the parking lot of the company and drive with a van and a car towards Luxembourg. After two hours we are almost at our destination. Time for the second coffee of the day to drive strengthened then to the customer.
First of all our heart sinks into our trouser pocket. We do not see a truck, which should have our casks and barrel storage with us. But when we are greeted by the nice and very competent warehouse staff on site, our truck arrives.
The warehouse employee skillfully instructs the truck driver in the truck bay so that my colleagues can unload the goods at ground level.
Now it goes for the vats one floor deeper into the cellar. Some wine cellars require breathtaking manoeuvres – for example, lifting the barrel through a hole – but in this case there is a freight elevator for which the coopers built the barrels exactly to measure.
Nevertheless, it is a millimetre’s work to get the barrels in and out. I was probably more nervous with the camera than my colleagues who had to manoeuvre. 😉
Who now thinks that was the hardest part of the cellarage is wrong enormously!
Muscles and brains
A cooper needs muscles – how else can he do the heavy manual work? But they also need brains, which have certainly saved them in many a cellar.
The large barrels must be placed on a solid pedestal on which several barrels are already standing. No problem with the first few barrels, nor is there enough space. So the men let their muscles play and of course their heads. With a few self-invented tricks they get one barrel after the other on the platform AND on the specially made barrel store with calotte feet. These are certain feet made of stainless steel, which are ideal for floors with an inclination.
One large drum after the other is set up exactly to measure. For the last two barrels, the only question left was in what order and how. This is where the brains and experience of our coopers come into play. No problem for this well-rehearsed team! Soon the last barrels will be ready and the final phase of the construction will begin.
Installation of the accessories
A lot can happen during transport. To protect the remaining accessories, they are often only installed on the drum at the customer’s premises. In this case it was the ladder retaining bracket, test valve and residual outlet with disc valve. As you can imagine, we would have liked to have had our day off now – especially our coopers, who have been doing hard physical work the whole time.
Nothing there! Fully motivated we go into the final spurt of the cellar. Finally I can help them a little. Between the photos I carried the accessories to my colleagues on call, so at least they didn’t always have to crawl in and out of the barrel. Finally, the large barrels were fully equipped and in the right spot – millimeter work here as well.
Acceptance from the customer
Of course, we don’t just disappear in the end. The customer is called and goes with one of the coopers through all the barrels again and which steps he has to follow before the wine comes into the barrels. Meanwhile we tidy up and store the tools in our transporter. The satisfied customer, who even gave us a good drop of wine as a thank-you, says goodbye to us. 😊
Our long day doesn’t end there. Satisfied and tired we drive the 2 hours back home to Bad Dürkheim. Only then the day comes to an end for us and we all drive home.
All in all, I have always had the greatest respect for our craftsmen, the coopers, the carpenters and our shipping and warehousing staff. Day after day, in the heat and cold, they work physically hard and have to be able to use their heads! In wind and weather every truck is unloaded…and much more.
After I was also one day on assembly with a cellar this respect rose all the more. Always the satisfied and happy customers in the back of my mind and what they have achieved on a single working day – madness!
See you next time. 😊