Posted on June 21, 2014
Spring Bottling at Maryhill WineryEssay length: 391 words.
Reading time: ~ 2 minutes.
Bottling at a small boutique winery is an intimate process. A small group of people and a small machine. A few bottles are filled at a time, passed along where they are corked, capped and then placed in boxes (sometimes there is only a metal cap - the cover over the cork is a “capsule"). The bottling process at a large winery is just the same: a group of folks, all with an important job in the bottling process. The main difference is scale, of course. A much bigger bottling line with a much bigger machine. Equally as beautiful, the process is fascinating to watch. Cases of bottles are fed into the bottling line, filled with wine and corked and then transported along the line where someone hand places the capsules on each and every bottle as it passes.
Here's a little tidbit: that machine is supposed to cap those bottles too. Only it doesn't. You can guess why, but no one knows. That's right, even the company that makes the machine (in Italy) has no idea. Funny little tidbit though, as Vicki Leuthold of Maryhill Winery explains, everyone that has the machine has the same problem. I digress...
So, once the capsules are placed on the bottles, they travel into the labeling part of the machine where the capsules are also pressed or tightened onto the bottles. Their last stop on the bottling line is where they are snagged by two people at the end of the line and placed in cases. The finishing touches are sealing and labeling the boxes, and then stacking the full cases of wine onto pallets. Voilà...hundreds of cases bottled in a matter of hours.
Now, I really cannot do this whole process justice in this essay...I'm basically running through the laundry list of steps and hoping I'm making it interesting to read. Maybe the pictures will give you just a small idea of what a cool event this is. The buzzing and whirring of the equipment, the coordination of many hard working bodies and the cases slowly stacking on the pallet. It is an impressive undertaking. It is also the culmination of years of effort when you consider the big picture. The grapes grow, they are harvested, crushed and then aged to make wine (forgive the oversimplification of this complex process called winemaking!)...the grand finale is bottling.