Bottling: A Sprint to the Finish Line

The production timeline for making wine is very long compared to most food and beverage standards. It’s rare that it takes 15 months for a consumable to go from raw ingredient (grapes) to finished product (a bottle of wine).

The final chapter in this long story is Bottling Day.

There are a myriad of steps and preparations that go into the actual day of bottling. Are the bottles, corks, capsules, labels, boxes all compatible? Do they live up to brand standards? Does the wine have correct sulfur dioxide and dissolved oxygen levels, correct blend components? Is it heat, cold and microbially stable? All of these tiny pieces need to be flawless to assure the wine will age gracefully in bottle and not turn to vinegar!

We only bottle one day per year. A nice set of bottling line equipment runs in the low 7-figures, so small wineries like us don’t have their own bottling equipment. Therefore, we rent a mobile bottling line and its owner/operators assist us for our one big day. We’ve only worked with one bottler in our 11 years of making wine and they book-out months in advance. If something with the wine or the packaging isn’t correct on the scheduled day, it could be months before we have another shot at it and the wine will likely suffer.

Thus, while harvest is a many-week marathon of long hours and cumulative stress, bottling is a one day sprint to the finish line and the pressure is on to ensure all the factors and logistics come together. I’m happy to report that bottling this year took place on Monday January 16th, it was very smooth and all our wines are safe in their 750mL and 1.5L format.

Now post-bottling, the book is closed on the 2015 vintage from a production standpoint. We’ll age these wines in bottle for 3-9 months in our cellar before they’re offered to you in our annual Fall and Spring releases. Now I turn my attention back to the 2016 vintage as these young wines complete their Malolactic fermentation, receive their first kiss of sulfur dioxide, and settle in for a 10+ month rest in barrel.

Nothing is out-of-mind for very long though and before the 2017 harvest even begins I’ll already be booking our 2018 bottling date and thinking about the blends we’ll send out to the world.

From the Winemaker,
-Alex Kanzler

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