It’s All in the Oak
At the Home Builder Show in Las Vegas I met winemaker Rob Mondavi, Jr. (grandson of the legendary founder of Napa’s Mondavi Winery) and his wife Lydia, who are launching a new venture in partnership with Georgia-based Authentic Reclaimed Pine Floors this spring. The name of the product is “Barrel Reserve,” which refers not to a chardonnay blend, but to the wood that might have encased it. The limited edition interior wood floor collection is made from “decommissioned” Mondavi French oak wine barrels. If you like your chardonnay with a hint of oak, now you can have your oak with a splash of chardonnay.
Robert selects the barrel-heads at the end of each harvest — looking for exceptional grain and rich color — and then Authentic Pine Floors dismantles each cask and mills the wood into engineered flooring — that is, panels composed of the oak bonded to a substrate. The connections between panels are seamless. Robert says the inspiration came from a long tradition of wine-making families using oak cask flooring in their homes (who knew?). The casks are relatively short so of course the boards are, too, creating a distinctively patterned cabernet or chardonnay-hued surface. The sample above illustrates the range of hues. Ultimately you will have a choice of either the vibrant cabernet or subtler chardonnay cask boards. The floors are initial products in the new Mondavi Home Collection (note: the website is still under development). I like the idea that as you walk over your new wood floor you could be sipping on what helped create it: call it the Circle of Thirst!
Authentic Reclaimed Pine Floors is a company that knows its way around a vintage product. According to their website: “We reclaimed some gorgeous heart pine, poplar and oak from one of the barrel houses at the Old Crow Bourbon Distillery in Woodford County, KY. We reclaimed structural beams, decking, and even joists from the actual barrel runs. We were also able to get our hands on a couple of the actual barrels, although sadly, there was no bourbon left inside.” Makes me want to belly up to a bar and order a shot of poplar — neat! They plan
to use the material in everything from solid and engineered flooring to mantels, stair parts, and even a ping pong table. They’ve also reclaimed a range of massive wood beams from an old American Tobacco warehouse in Louisville, and dense Heart Pine from a John Deere tractor warehouse near Kansas City. Here’s an
example of pre-finished wide plank flooring in a kitchen — the wood is oiled , forming a protective no-VOC surface. Here’s another example in a living room.
No wonder wine and spirits are so compatible with wood flooring — it all looks edible, if not quaffable. Bon appetit! (Last three photos courtesy Authentic Reclaimed Pine Floors.)