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Meet the Craftspeople: Ballard Vine Works

Meet the Craftspeople: Ballard Vine Works

Posted October 16, 2015

What happens to wine barrels when wineries are finished using them? Brothers Ron and Loren Ballard have come up with an array of creative uses that keep this amazing wood out of landfills: they reclaim the barrels, incorporating metalwork with the luscious naturally wine stained woods for wine racks, wine glass holders, lazy Susans, and more.

After he retired, Loren was searching for a project when a friend asked him to build a wine barrel cabinet. It was an idea that spurned a new business venture, one that Ron later joined.

"I was in Spokane at the time working a corporate job, and I was getting burned out sitting at a desk," Ron says.

Ron moved to Seattle and the two launched the business in 2013, securing a spot in Pike Place Market last fall. Ron and Loren buy barrels from wineries and brokers after they have gone "neutral," meaning there's no more flavor to be extracted from the oak. This happens after about 8 to 10 years.

Wine barrels are a challenge to work with in part because their curves offer no straight angles to work with. Still, the brothers try to incorporate very few outside materials besides the occasional steel flourish; the products are almost entirely reclaimed barrel.

Ron says it's becoming tougher to obtain the barrels, which are popular with brewers, distillers, and other artists. It often involves quite a hunt and a hustle to procure these treasures. Once the barrels arrive, Ron and Loren do all the work in Loren's backyard. They also do custom work.

"We stand behind our products 100 percent," says Ron, who encourages customers to come back if there is any need for replacement or repair.

Look for Ballard Vine Works inside Pike Place Market as well as on Facebook and their official website.