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A & K Cooperage
98 west Jones St
Higbee, MO 65257

Telephone: 660-456-7227

Year Started: 1972

# American Employees: 10
  A&K Cooperage has been making American white Oak barrels in Higbee since 1972, renewing a European tradition of fine barrel making. A&K Cooperage was initially started as a keg business by Dale Andrews and his son-in-law Dale Kirby. The company started by producing 5- to 20- gallon kegs but for more than 25 years has concentrated solely on manufacturing 59- gallons American white oak barrels. Andrews died in 1996, and today, Dale Kirby and Matthew carry on with the business. Wine barrels made in the European tradition use wood treated with a technique called fire bending, which make the wood more pliable. The European-style barrels are air-dried approximately 18 to 24 months. In 2000, A&K sold half of the business to Silver Oak Cellars, a longtime California customer. Together, they purchased several hundred acres of timberland to ensure a constant supply of wood for future use. Silver Oak is the largest consumer of A&K barrels, using about 3,000 of its barrels every year. 'We are committed to achieving the perfect toast level to exact specifications of our customers," Dale said, referring to the process of firing the wooden barrels. "Silver Oak wanted to ensure continuation of the consistent taste of A&K barrels for their highly sought-after Cabernet Sauvignon. The elegance and finesse of this wine has extracted as zealous a circle of customers as any winery can boast." "We prefer quality over quantity", said Matthew, whose job is setting up all the barrels for toasting and who also fills in for other employees whenever they are absent. "We only produce about 5,000 barrels a year, but quality and taste remains the trademark of A&K Cooperage." In adding A&K Cooperage and their Missouri oak barrels to its existing portfolio of family run coopers, Artisan Barrels - main objective is to broaden its range of oak solutions to cost conscious winemakers. In the first two years of representation, Jérôme Aubin's main focus has been to expand A&K's customers base to small and medium size wineries. Since 2007, A&K has been able to provide with laser etching wineries logos onto the barrels' heads as well as three years air-dried barrels.  
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