Page Bottling Quandry

One large hurdle that a small winery must overcome is figuring out the best way to bottle their wine.  The simple act of getting the wine into the bottle can frustrate even the most seasoned of winemakers.  Larger wineries can usually  justify purchasing a bottling line based on their projected cash flow and volume of wine produced.  For us, however, this is a bit of a grey area that thankfully presents a few options.

In the midst of this busy vineyard season, bottling wine is about the last thing I want think about.  My initial plan was to bottle our 2008 whites late in the summer, but due to the popularity of our 2007 Pinot Gris (only 12 cases left) we are mulling over the “good” problem of having to move that date up a bit.  In the past, our bottling runs were done by the seat of our pants in conjunction with the good folks at Creekside.  Once my wines were ready I was able to white-knuckle them over the QEW in the back of our truck to the “trusty” old Creekside bottling line.  Held together with enough duct tape to make even Red Green jealous, that line bore witness to its fair share of tears, shonks and damn good wine before being retired last year.

Another option we are looking into is the mobile bottling line, essentially everything you need in the back of a semi-trailer.  Hook up your hose to one end of the trailer and packaged wine magically appears from the other end.  Convenience aside, I’m still not convinced that this is the most cost effective method for small runs like ours (50-100 cases). It would be ideal if all our wines, white and red, were ready at the same time and I could hire the mobile line to bottle them in one day, but that will likely never be the case.

Due to the success of our unfiltered 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, I plan to experiment with more unfiltered products in future releases.  It’s risky, but I think a few unfiltered cases of each wine is doable.  As long as our customers bear with us, I’m willing to give it a shot.  Given this, I suppose it’s possible to manually bottle small amounts of wine the old fashion way.  Wouldn’t that be fun?  No one says you have to bottle your wine all at once.  You could call in your order in the morning and I would bottle it fresh from the barrel that afternoon.  The next day you wake up and it’s on your front step,  just like the milk man!  Perhaps a little pie in the sky but you never know…

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