Bottling took us 4 days this year with 5 people per shift. If you remember from the last blog the wine had been pad filtered and racked to a clean tank after cold stabilization. With caps, bottles, labels and most importantly wines ready to go, we set up our bottling line in the barrel room. First the bottled get sparged on the inside with a blast of nitrogen to displace the air in the bottle. This minimizes the amount of oxygen that gets into the wine when the bottle is filled with wine. From there, the filler nozzle of our 4 head bottler gets sunk into the bottle neck and the bottles fill with wine to the measured fill point. We don’t want to leave much airspace between the top of the wine and the cap. Once the bottle is filled with wine it goes to our capper (we use screwcaps instead of corks). The person on the capper puts a cap on the bottle and inserts it into the capping machine. With two thumbs on the buttons (to prevent putting hands where they shouldn’t be) the capper head comes down over the cap and bottle and cleverly puts a thread on the cap that compliments that already on the glass bottle. Easy! For $9000 you can have one of these handy dandy machines too! From the capper the bottle goes to the labeller which holds a big roll of 1000 labels. It is a simple machine with a hand crank that puts on one label at a time. The last person on the line packs the bottles back into their boxes, tapes and labels the box and then has the tiring job of stacking the boxes on pallets. The assembly line is a great place to catch up with your friends and family who are helping – one of the great benefits of a small family owned winery that does its own bottling!