Anthony Quill is setting out to prove, like a fine wine, wine barrels get better with age.
Along with his family, Quill owns and runs By the Barrel, a company that specializes in making rain barrels out of wine barrels.
"A new barrel can cost a couple thousand dollars," says Quill. "They’re all handmade. There’s a lot of work that goes into them. So it’s pretty wasteful to have such a nice barrel go to waste."
The barrels come from vineyards or wineries in California's Napa Valley or Washington State. Quill says they’re made of white oak, they’re ¾ of an inch thick and they make more durable rain barrels than plastic does.
"We have a lot of customers that come that bought plastic rain barrels that cracked when water freezes, they usually crack along the water line," says Quill.
While durability is a strong selling point, a lot of Quill’s customers say they buy his barrels for their look.
"I like the aesthetics of them," says new customer Randy Duncan. "I think they look a lot better than the plastic ones. They’re just more rustic looking and I have an older house and it just fits with the décor."
Quill is one of a handful of vendors in the Twin Cities selling rain barrels made of wine or whiskey barrels. Prices for such barrels range from $150 to $250. Quill’s rain barrels cost $199.
Quill says the company goes through about 600 barrels a year, making, not just rain barrels, but also garden planters. He even sells plain barrels to people who want to make their own rain barrels or furniture.
By the Barrel’s items are sold through the garden centers Mother Earth Gardens and Uncommon Gardens. You can also order them online at www.bythebarrelmn.com.
October 5, 2012