The first family of oak


Gareth Skidmore lives in Burgundy, where he works as a translator and  teaches wine-business English to Burgundians.

St-Romain – a sleepy little village of 240 souls, nestled beneath cliffs and hilltops in the hinterland of the vineyards of the Côte de Beaune. Nothing much happening here, n'est-ce pas? Or is there? What are all those stacks of wood left out in the weather?

Tonnellerie François Frères dominates the village. This traditional barrel-making business was started in 1910 by the grandfather of Jean François, who entered the family business in 1959 and was its managing director from 1972. His son...