To turn cork oak into a cork closure requires a specific manufacturing process and a number of different trades. But who are the members of the cork industry? Here, we provide an overview of the various practitioners involved in the production chain of a cork closure, but also some insight into integrated manufacturers.
The practitioners involved in one stage of the cork closure production process
Among those that play a part in producing cork closures are three main players: those that prepare the cork, those that punch out the closures and the firms that sell them.
Those involved in the preparation stage play a role immediately after the harvest. They ensure the cork planks are properly dried for at least 6 months, during which time the cork is stabilised. Once the moisture content has dropped sufficiently, the boiling stage occurs – this cleans the cork, expands it and softens it. Batches that are visually consistent are then formed.
Those involved in the punching stage punch closures out of the cork strips. This is done using a mechanical punch which cuts the cork into cylindrical shapes.
Finally, the trading companies buy semi-finished closures then, once they have been marked and treated on the surface, sell them to winegrowers so that they can bottle their wines.
The integrated manufacturers
Alongside companies that only handle part of the cork closure manufacturing process, there are integrated manufacturers. This is the route chosen by Bourrassé in order to maintain complete control over every stage of production and thereby guarantee the traceability of its products.
An integrated manufacturer is involved in the entire process, from buying the cork in the forest to preparing, producing and finishing the closures.
There are therefore many members of the cork industry, all of which can take a different approach to their trade. They can either be involved in just one stage of the cork closure manufacturing process, or follow through every stage to improve traceability.