Bottling: this is how we do it.

We recently bottled the 2010 Hocus Pocus Syrah at the winery in Lompoc. The wine tastes very good, sadly there are only about 485 cases of it. It is always a great relief to get wine into the bottle. The winemaking part of my job is over, though the selling part now begins. We have freed up a little bit of room in the cellar which is a relief as space is at a premium. In the old days, meaning a generation or two ago, wine was bottled by hand over a period of months, barrel by barrel. This led to great variability from case to case: imagine, was your case from the lot bottled in January or June..? Hand bottling also exposed the wine to unwanted oxygen in the process, another strike.
Fortunately for todays consumers hand bottling is virtually non-existent (I’m sure I’ll get some message from someone saying Jean-Paul-so-and-so STILL hand bottles, it’s so great!).
In California, even small little 2,000 case wineries like us can use state-of-the-art equipment bottle their wines. It’s quite an amazing process to witness if you have never seen it. At about 7AM a truck loaded with close to $1,000,000 worth of bottling equipment and shiny stainless steel pulls up to our winery. Once the line has received a careful cleaning with ozone-water, and all the parts and pieces have been adjusted to get the label on straight and the corks at the right height, it all starts running. In the following video here is what you will see: empty bottles get sparged with nitrogen (nitrogen good, oxygen bad!), then they are filled with delicious Syrah and perfectly leveled, then in goes the cork under pressure to pull a vacuum, then the foils are put on by hand and mechanically wrapped tight, and finally the labels are pressed on.
Here is a link to a video of our bottling:Bottling Line In Action

3 thoughts on “Bottling: this is how we do it.

  1. We were running about 150 cases per hour, which sounds fast, but I think “full speed” they can run at 200+ cases per hour. It all depends on how well your label goes on, issues with cork, etc. We were not in a rush!