wine, bottle and cork stopper.
a natural combination, perfected by many generations over four centuries.
Trefinos was constituted as a company in August 1917 as a result of the takeover of Barris y Cia.
The operation was done on the initiative of the industrialist, Joan Miquel i Avellí, director and owner of Manufacturas del Corcho SA, who purchased and renamed the hundred-year-old, preeminent Casa Barris. The company thus incorporated more than 160 years of history in the manufacturing of cork stoppers. Therefore, Trefinos is, in all probability, the cork production company with the longest experience in the world..
The Barris family came from a farmhouse in the village of Mont-roig, in Darnius. Darnius is in the middle of the Alt Empordà region in the mountains. Before 1750, an heir of Casa Barris, trying to earn his living outside the original rural area, set up in Agullana, near the border town of La Jonquera. He was one of the first cork stopper makers documented. In February 1763, the parish of Agullana registered Martí Barris i Barris, a “tapier” by trade, in its Marriage Registry. This is how the trade used to be written at that time in the north of Catalonia due to the influence of Occitania, because of its proximity to South East France.
Some thirty years later, the Barris family moved to the lower lands in the south, to set up their residence and their cork workshop in the Baix Empordà region, specifically in Palafrugellwhere, at that time, an active nucleus of cork manufacturers and traders was establishing itself. Many of them had moved to the south, not just because of the richness of the cork oak forests in the area, in Les Gavarres mountain range, but also because of the easy connection by sea with the ports of Languedoc and Provence, mainly Sète and Marseilles, to the east and west of the Rhône. Loading on the Rhône rapidly channelled the transport of the cork stoppers, as well as of other Catalan goods, towards the north of France and the west and east of Europe.
Trefinos’ productive activity has always been focused on the manufacturing of large (4.5 cm long), top-quality cork stoppers, called “très fins” in French, meaning very elegant in English, mainly destined to stopping bottles of sparkling wine. These stoppers, called trefins in Catalan, are what gave our company its name..
The concept of the “trefin” stopper has changed over time, in keeping with technical innovations. From the original cork stoppers made of a single piece of cork, called whole stoppers, they went to stoppers made of two or three pieces glued to each other, to those of four or more pieces with discs at either end, and later to agglomerate cork stoppers with washers. All these specialities were manufactured at the Trefinos factory in Palafrugell.
In 1995, the company introduced the technical stopper into the wine market with its MAXIUM brand, made up of a body of agglomerated grains of cork, with one or two discs of natural cork applied to either end. Trefinos is one of the main world producers of technical stoppers.
Two years later, in 1997, Augusta Cork was created in San Vicente de Alcántara, Badajoz (Extremadura), at the foot of the Sierra de San Pedro, one of the largest cork oak areas in Spain. Augusta Cork rigorously selects the raw material for its transformation from raw cork into the production of washers, which later, at Trefinos, will make up part of the technical cork stopper made to be distributed to the main wine producing companies in the world.
In 2009, Trefinos' Research and Development team developed the COMPAC line of cork stoppers, a complementary range of microcellular cork stoppers for still wines, sparkling wines, beers and liqueurs. The company has contributed all its experience and knowledge to this new line of products, without renouncing the intrinsic properties of cork, a natural, ecological product.
The cork stopper
The first references to cork date back to 3000 BC in China, where it was used in fishing tackle. The Egyptians, Babylonians, Phoenicians and Persians were also familiar with the properties of cork, but it was not until man started to produce wine that it appeared as the most suitable material for closing the containers used to preserve it..
Nevertheless, the industrial use of cork started in the 18th century with the appearance of glass containers for storing wine in small quantities and with the invention of the French monk, Dom Pérignon, who added sugar to young wines in Champagne to preserve their natural effervescence.
The success of the méthode champenoise had been a pure Utopia with the wooden or hemp stoppers used until then. An elastic, impermeable material was needed that would prevent the loss of the gas produced during fermentation and the cork stopper was the ideal answer to these demands and it became the perfect, inseparable guardian of champagne and, finally, of all the products from the wine industry.
The cork industry in Catalonia
After 1681, the preparation of champagne was systemised and, as a result of this, there was a need for cork stoppers. The production of these cork stoppers started in Occitania, and soon crossed the Pyrenees, due to the large extensions of cork oak forests in the Albera and Les Gavarres. The first references to the cork producing activity in Catalonia date back to the second half of the 18th century and it was initially found in small traditional workshops and the first traders mainly focusing on the French wine and champagne market. Originally, this activity was found in the Selva and Empordà regions.
From the beginning of the manufacturing of cork stoppers until the mid-19th century, the industry had few technological innovations. Until that time, there were traditional cork makers working in small workshops who only required a knife and a batch of cork. Little by little, small manually operated machines were introduced that made some of the production processes of cork stoppers easier.
An important evolution took place in the last years of the 19th century, during the Second Industrial Revolution, in which motor driven machines were introduced which required more complex installations and buildings adapted to these new technologies. This process was already consolidated in cork making companies in countries such as Germany and France and was found in Catalonia from 1880 onwards. After this time, the Catalan cork stopper industry reached its peak, also coinciding with the growth of the local cava industry which acted as a great driving force for the sector. The great volume of cork stopper production meant that high levels of mechanisation and highly competitive positions were achieved.
During the first quarter of the 20th century, Catalonia, and more specifically the upper region of the Selva and the Baix Empordà, became a worldwide point of reference in the production of cork and its manufacturing. It was not until the Second World War that it underwent a crisis in the foreign markets that led to the progressive abandoning of exploiting cork forests and, therefore, of the business of the raw material. However, over the following decades, the cork transformation segment managed to achieve a leading position in production and commercialisation through specialising in cork stoppers.
Today, Catalonia is one of the foremost regions in the production and commercialisation of technical cork stoppers for sparkling wines (60% of the world quota) and a high positioning in natural cork stoppers for still wines.