Aleš Wenzel Gives New Life to Old Wine Barrels

A Styria resident Aleš Wenzel has a very unusual business—he makes lampshades, furniture and other useful things from old wine barrels.


About 30 years ago, his family purchased an old winery, once owned by the Habsburg noble family Windisch-Graetz, in the village of Ritoznoj. “This place gave birth to the famous white wine “Ritoznojčan”, which was produced by the winemaker who lived in this house,” said Aleš about the building constructed in 1690.

The fertile wine region inspired him to a craft that has a direct relationship to wine. Aleš Wenzel takes old discarded barrels and used wine jugs, and breathes a new life into them—he makes lampshades, tables, cutlery, plates and cutting boards.

Aleš’s work starts from searching for barrels all over Slovenia. He buys out used jugs from winemakers, while old wine barrels subject to recycling he often receives for free. Aleš Wenzel explains that the wood species, from which the barrels are made, is not that important. The main thing is that the wood is healthy. First of all, a barrel should be disassembled and cleaned, and the wood—cut and sharpened. Wenzel uses barrel hoops to make lampshades, while lamps themselves are made from wine bottles and balloons.

“Today, such items are of great interest, and the demand for them is quite high,” notes Aleš Wenzel. He and his wife sell products to private individuals, winemakers and hospitality industry companies.

Aleš Wenzel’s products are sold successfully abroad. He has buyers from Italy, Austria and Germany. For example, his cutting boards are used in one of the best restaurants—Die Weinbank—in Ehrenhausen, in Austrian Styria. Besides, visitors of the famous wine hotel Loisium (Kamptal, Lower Austria) can even purchase Wenzel’s products.