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©Carla Freitas
©Carla Freitas
©Carla Freitas
©Carla Freitas
©Carla Freitas

José Quintão

  • Zé Espiga
  • Barrel maker
  • Bucelas, Portugal
  • Master Artisan
José Quintão Barrel maker
Monday to Friday 08:00 - 18:00, Saturday 09:00 - 13:00
+351 963060621
©Carla Freitas

The last barrel maker of his region

  • • José is nicknamed Zé Espiga
  • • He inherited his workshop, his craft and his nickname
  • • He uses over 16 types of wood in his barrels

The third generation of a barrel-making family, José Quintão says that his professional name is also inherited, as his father and grandfather were also nicknamed Zé Espiga. The last cooper from Bucelas, a town with a winemaking tradition once known for its coopers, Zé Espiga prides himself on keeping his craft intact, using inherited tools and keeping his technique as pure as possible, working in what he calls an “almost medieval way”. Barrels have historical significance for his country, Portugal, which has a heritage in wine production. Manual barrel production has been greatly reduced, especially with the development of industrial production in oak-rich countries. Today, oak barrels have taken over a market with over 16 traditional wood choices.

Read the full interview


  • ©All rights reserved
  • ©All rights reserved
  • ©All rights reserved
Photo: ©All rights reserved
A barrel

While it may seem somewhat outdated, the technology behind a keg is clever: the wooden structure allows the contents to be in a controlled exchange of air and temperature with the environment, giving it longevity. This barrel by Zé Espiga has a capacity of 200 litres.

Height 90 cm
Diameter 60 cm

Photo: ©All rights reserved
A stool

This stool by Zé Espiga was made from wood and iron using traditional barrel-making techniques, which means there are no screws to secure the piece. After a thermal process, the wood expands and the iron shrinks, tightening together the precisely cut pieces of wood.

Height 50 cm
Diameter 25 cm

Photo: ©All rights reserved

This balseiro, or wooden container, was made to store spirits maintaining its natural aging process. Zé Espiga made it using a structure very similar to a barrel, but its small size, flat shape, and tap allows the easy consumption of the spirit.

Height 45 cm
Diameter 30 cm

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