Chris Muir's Day By Day

Monday, March 03, 2014

End of an Era

"The Last Cooper In Chiclana."

That would be Chiclana, Spain, down in the area where sherry is made. A cooper is a maker of barrels, in this case barrels for the sherry industry. It's a dying art, because modernisation in wine-making techniques has replaced the wooden barrel with the stainless steel tank for much of the process of turning grape juice into wine. It's only during the ageing process that wooden barrels are needed, and since the solera system of ageing sherry doesn't require new barrels (the wine is transferred between barrels in a complicated process, with the wine for bottling being taken from the most mature barrels), the need for coopers has diminished through the years. Paco Gomez Morales, the cooper in this story, has been making barrels for 50 years, and no one will replace him when he retires.

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