It’s May. Our white grapes harvested last fall are now finished wine and the wine is ready to drink. So, spring is bottling time for our whites. We try to schedule bottling for rainy days since the vines are also awakening and needing attention.
We are very fortunate to have an automated line that moves at the rate of 1,000 bottles an hour. It may be automated, but we really have to hop on bottling days! It takes 4 to 5 of us to keep the machine busy.
One person unloads cases of empty bottles from a pallet stacked 7 feet high; another feeds the bottles onto the machine’s moving web; another at the far end of the line grabs the now filled, corked, capsuled and labeled bottles and loads them into an empty carton; another loads the now filled cases onto a pallet. And, since the machine is liable to do anything at any point in time, one person is designated to keep watch on it all and be ready to push one of the red stop buttons strategically located on several points on the machine as quickly as he or she can when something goes wrong.
While winery workers are a little bit edgy on bottling days, it's a job everyone wants to participate in, and there's a certain satisfaction when the day is over and the wine is safely in the bottle.
We love to have anyone who's curious take a look at this very interesting happening and hear all the bottles clinking as they progress along the moving web, so if you hear that "music" in the background when you stop by, be sure to ask for a tour. - Ken
Check out the short video below for a look at our bottling line: