2019 Comparative Oak Tasting Uncovers Favorite Oak for Jowler Creek Winery's award-winning sustainable Red wines


Despite the snowy weather, we were able to hold our 9th Annual Jowler Creek Winery Comparative Oak Tasting January 12-20, 2019 in our tasting room near Kansas City, Missouri. At this unique tasting event, guests were invited to taste six Chambourcin wines and six Norton wines each with different types of oak. This event provides a unique experience for guests to learn about the great impact the type of oak has on a wine’s flavor and mouthfeel. Oak types ranged from French Oak Double Toast to oak staves to oak from specific forest in specific latitudes that emit detectable character in the wine.

How Oak Helps Make an Award-Winning Wine

It is always amazing how the exact same wine can take on such a wide array of character just from the type of oak.  While wine making is a science, it is also very much an art because there are so many variables that can influence the outcome. There are hundreds of oak types and heating combinations so the ending result can be very wide ranging.

If you take the same oak staves (boards) and apply different types of heat on the wood, the result is different flavors in the wine. Coopers today have access to traditional fire toast methods, infrared toasting methods and convection heat methods. Each method of heat produces a variety of flavor profiles in the wood. Vary the length of time for each heat source and you change the flavor even more.

The Tasting Format of Jowler Creek Winery’s Fun Oak Tasting Event

While there may be hundreds of variables and commercially available oak varieties we narrowed our evaluation down to just 5 types of oak for the Norton and five for the Chambourcin. An un-oaked “control” was also tasted. Oak at Jowler Creek Winery is sourced from Oak Solutions Group, a company specializing in providing oak chips, staves and other barrel alternatives to the wine industry.

This year we had over 150 individual tasters participate in the oak tasting trial. Their feedback ranking the oak from best to least desirable gave us a statistical winner and clear indication of which wine suited the broadest group of wine drinkers.

Jowler Creek Winery Listens to its Customers

Every customer participating was asked to rate each wine and rank them in order of preference. Their scores were then tallied and evaluated to find a statistical winner in each wine varietal. The oak rated 1 was the most liked while oak ranked 6th was least liked. As a result of this method, the lower the total number, the higher it placed in likability. Following is an overview of how the wines were ranked:

 Jowler Creek’s Norton Wines with Oak

  • 45-degree Rhone: 483 total votes

  • 42-degree Rioja: 475 total votes

  • 33-degree Mendoza: 461 total votes

  • High Mocha: 436 total votes

  • Precision Fire – Balanced: 428 total votes


Jowler Creek’s Chambourcin Wines with Oak

  • 33-degree Mendoza: 541 total votes

  • 46-degree Burgundy: 490 total votes

  • French Oak – Double Toast: 485 total votes

  • Cuvee #3: 456 total votes

  • 42-degree Rioja: 450 total votes

Jowler Creek Winery’s Winning Wines

In the end our winners were Precision Fire - Balanced for the Norton and 42-degree Rioja for the Chambourcin.

Obviously there were a variety of preferences and not everyone loved the same oak. However there were definitely some key take-a-ways:

  • Oak is overwhelmingly preferred to the control. The un-oaked, unfiltered, un-aged wine came across rough, astringent, wild and acidic. Once aged on oak the wine began to soften, have more finesse, better mouthfeel and balance. It is amazing what oak can do to improve a wine.

  • The Norton had a smaller range statistically within the preferences than Chambourcin. This indicates that Chambourcin is a bit more finicky in regards to the type of oak that enhances its character in the most positive way. Norton, however, despite its wild tendencies can be tamed and balanced with a wider variety of oak types.

  • The Precision Fire – Balanced oak variety is now a two-time winner of the Jowler Creek Norton tasting.


If you would like to learn more about the different toasting methods or oak varieties available to us, check out Oak Solutions Group for more information.

 If you would like to try our wines and see the difference that oak can make, be sure to follow us online and mark your calendar for our 11th Annual Oak Tasting event in Winter 2020. You can be a part of selecting the best oak for the next great Jowler Creek Wine!