How are wine corks made? In this video, we share how they actually do grow on trees… corks are part of tree bark! While some people might know that wine corks are made almost exclusively from the bark of the cork oak tree, many are unaware that the process of stripping the bark does not harm the tree. A single cork tree can live for more than 200 years and during that time it can be harvested once every nine years after the age of 25.
On-site at Corrales Winery near the Rio Grande River in Albuquerque, New Mexico, we provide an overview of these amazing cork oak trees, how their bark is harvested, and then used to punch out corks that end up helping to seal and preserve your bottles of wine.
The top cork-producing country is Portugal where about a third of all corks are made, followed by Spain, with corks being shipped to over 100 countries around the world. Harvesting cork bark with razor-sharp, specialty-made axes is highly skilled work where the same manual methods have been for hundreds of years, and involves diligently separating the outer and inner bark, before drying and processing the planks. Thus, cork bark harvesters are some of the best-paid workers in the farming industry. Cork forests, or ‘montados’ in Portuguese, rank among the top biodiversity hotspots in the Mediterranean and Europe. Portugal is badly affected by desertification, in part due to its dry climate, and cork trees act as an important safeguard. When well-managed, cork forests create greater biodiversity, improve soil’s organic material and contribute to the regulation of the hydrological cycle with several hundred species of plants and animals which specifically live in these areas.
Cork is a natural, environmentally friendly material. It biodegrades completely and can be easily recycled without producing any toxic residues. The cork trees are not harmed when their outer bark is expertly harvested and are able to regenerate many times over, providing a sustainable and regenerative product that doesn’t require the tree to be killed.