Serving Napa Valley and beyond since 1972
Back in the early 1970’s, Robert Mondavi began to work with French oak barrels. At that time, barrels were normally shipped unassembled and put together here. One of the French cooperages sent a cooper over to teach some of the Mondavi folks how to assemble, finish and test the barrels. The employees soon realized that the market for European barrels was industry and three of them left to form Barrel Builders in 1972.
Phil came to work for Barrel Builders in 1974 and spent his first 15 years in the shop, working his way up from apprentice cooper to foreman. Several employees bought the cooperage from the earlier owners in 1986 and Phil became sole owner in 2001 with the departure of Henry Work.
To this day we continue to represent the finest in products and service and will continue to work with wineries worldwide for years to come.
Phil Burton, Owner
Born and raised in the hills of Connecticut, I came out to San Diego to attend college where I majored in surfing with a minor in biology. After college, I worked for various wilderness groups leading backcountry trips, ending up doing a pilot project with the San Diego Juvenile Probation Department. We took young offenders, many of whom had never been out of the city, on wilderness trips. At the end of the first year we had a very public dinner for our “success” cases, inviting the mayor and various city and state officials. Several purses got stolen at the dinner and the program was cancelled. I was vaguely headed to Alaska to get lost in the bush when I came across Napa Valley and got hooked. I needed a job; making barrels looked like fun and I started hanging around Barrel Builders until they gave me a job as an apprentice cooper. That was 1974 and I’ve been working with barrels and tanks ever since.
Over the years, I’ve worked with wineries and cooperages all over the world, from the US and Canada to Argentina, Australia, Israel, China and several European countries. Currently I’ve become a regular over at UC Davis taking winemaking classes; I enjoy learning more about the winemaking process and it helps me to be more effective in my work.
I turned 65 this spring but I’m still having too much fun to slow down; my sincere thanks to the many clients and friends that I’ve been fortunate enough to work with over the years.
When I have some down time I love kayaking and hiking. I also work with the Pope Valley Volunteer Fire Department where I’m the Assistant Chief.
Yann Guiguen, Master Cooper
Yann grew up in France, attending schools in several parts of the country and was a paratrooper in the French Army in the early 1990’s as well as attending the Ecole de Tonnellerie de Cognac, a rigorous cooper training college. His final exam was to build a barrel from start to finish by hand in 10 hours. After working at several cooperages, Yann came to work for barrel Builders in May of 1992 and has been our foreman since, supervising our shop crew and taking care of our used barrel and tank operation.
He lives in Lower Lake with his wife, Shirley, and his dog. He can be found on the weekends out on Clear Lake in his boat.
Heather Burton, Marketing Director/ Sales
Heather was born and raised in the Napa Valley. She attended CSU Channel Islands in Camarillo CA where she received a BS in Environmental Science and Resource Management with a minor in Art. Heather got the travel bug while participating in several international classes during her time at CSUCI; studying mangroves in Mexico, environmental policies in Japan, and habitat restoration in Louisiana. After school she worked for Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency in Thousand Oak CA as an Open Space Technician, maintaining and protecting the city’s parks. Even though she loved southern California she is very happy to be back in her home town working at the family business. When she is not working she loves running, hiking, backpacking, and snowboarding.
Patti Stockton, Office Manager
I began with Barrel Builders in 2006 and have been Office Manager since 2008. Over the years, I have gained a good bit of knowledge about the wine industry, and am still learning. It has been very enjoyable, to meet the Winemakers and Cellars Masters, when they come in the office. It is always fun to speak with people, who are excited and have a lot of passion for their work.
One of the many fun days here at Barrels Builders:
I had been working only for one week; I knew little about the wine industry. A man called the office and asked me, “how my buns where doing! You can image; what I wanted to say, but held the phone, and said, ‘Can I please put you on hold”. I turned to the Office Manager, at that time, and said; “He wants to know, how my buns are”! She started laughing and told me they are called bungs, and showed me, what bungs were. I have others, but that is it for now…..
Calvin, Office Greeter
Calvin takes his roll as office greeter very seriously and is getting better every day. He’s still a little nervous around new people but with a little patience and maybe a treat or two he’ll warm up to you. When he’s not at the office he loves going for long walks, snuggling in bed, and watching his favorite show Planet Earth.