For eleven years now, my entire month of March has been spent preparing our new wines for bottling and summertime release. I always look forward to this task, as it represents the culmination of many years of work and the chance to finally share those wines.
Our annual bottling date with the mobile line has always fallen in the last week of March or first week of April, giving us plenty of time to get the wines VQA approved and labelled before release. This year, our scheduled date was April 1st (no joke). A stickler for routine, I dutifully prepared my wines with blinders on until, thankfully, someone wiser than I provided some welcome perspective – I needed to stop and smell the Sauv Blanc. Although we were technically still allowed to assemble a large enough crew to bottle, it just didn’t feel like the right thing to do, given the uncertainty surrounding viral spread. Despite my initial hesitation to postpone bottling, doing our small part to keep the virus at bay became a no-brainer.
So, unfortunately, those eager wines did not make it to bottle on the early hours of April Fool’s day, and I am left with the queasy feeling of holding onto inventory longer than anticipated. There are intertwined concerns of letting people down, wine stability, temperature control, tank space and a looming summer without visitors.
On the flip side, I can’t discount that for some of the wines, this slight delay might actually be a good thing. Although my ego tells me that I had the wines exactly where I wanted them, perhaps some extended bulk aging could prove beneficial – tannins are still being refined, flavours developing, aromatics building.
I always figured that bottling all of our varietals in one day was risky, but never anticipated a situation like this. Thankfully, the folks at Hunter Bottling have been more than accommodating, offering us a make-up date in July when things have hopefully settled down.
A wine bottling delay really isn’t anything to complain about in the grand scheme of things, so I’ve trained myself to think of all the great wines I’ve heard tale of through the years that were the result of unplanned “innovation”. Sometimes it takes extenuating circumstances to get people to think outside the box and try new things. That said, I’ll probably rack my Sauv Blanc out of barrel sometime soon…just to be safe!