The craft of the cooper originated in Ancient Egypt some 4500 years ago. The
word 'cooper' is derived from the wooden barrels 'cupals', made by the 'cuparius',
the barrel makers of Cisalpine in Gaul. The fully closed barrel did not appear
till around 900 BC and by 100 BC had found wide use for storage of all manner
of goods such as water, milk, ale and wine.
The earliest barrels had hoops of wood which were gradually replaced by metal hoops. These barrels were much stronger than the earlier clay barrels and the shape of the barrel made them very easy to transport. Wine is stored in almost exclusively in oak barrels as various compounds in oak such as lactones, terpenes, tannins and phenols impart both flavour and texture into the wine. An estimated 7.5 billion gallons of wine is consumed annually worldwide.