Larkmead is a relatively small producer. On average, we'll make 8,000 cases a year. Our facility is not set up to bottle our own wine. The main reason for this is that it is expensive to own, maintain and manage a bottling line, especially since it is only used a couple of times a year. Therefore, when it comes time to bottling our wines, like many small producers, we will bring in a ‘mobile' bottling unit. The beast of an 18 or so wheeler is outfitted with all the necessary automated devices – a filler bowl to fill the bottles, the filling machine, a corker, a capsule put-er-on-er (don't really know if it has a name), the label machine and two technicians who manage the process professionally.
The empty glass bottle is sparged with either Argon or Nitrogen to displace the oxygen in the bottle. The bottle is then filled with wine (the wine gets to the truck by the use of a pump that is hooked up to a tank inside the winery). Once the bottle is full of wine, it is corked.
After the wine is corked, it slides down the line and a capsule is placed on the bottle.
The capsule is larger then the neck of the bottle, but it is spun and the air is vacuumed out of the in between space and the capsule is collapsed for a snug fit before it is sent to be labeled.
After the wine is labeled, it circles the other side of the truck and is placed in case boxes. Pictured below is our team manager, Hilda, who, with her team, circulate and work the starting and finishing aspects, as noted above, throughout the day.
Although the day is long (I'll arrive with the truck's technicians at 6 a.m. - we'll begin bottling at 8 a.m. - and leave, post clean up, at around 6 p.m.), there is always something to do during bottling, but there is one particular Larkmead cellar hand that gets to sleep on the job, my dog Sophie.
Dan has an MBA from New York University and worked as an Ad Exec in New York for several years, before switching it up and trading his suit for a move out west