Wine Talk

Snooth User: outthere

Hot off the presses, check it out JD!

Posted by outthere, Jul 30, 2012.

Chesters Anvil was bottled Friday.

Replies

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Reply by JonDerry, Jul 30, 2012.

Nice!

2010 Pinot, Zin?

Where's this done?

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Reply by outthere, Jul 30, 2012.

Malbec, Zin, Hattori Hanzo and Gretna Green. Chardonnay was supposed to be done today.

Mobile bottling truck

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 31, 2012.

Mobile bottling trucks are one of the great inventions of the last few decades--bottling lines are a huge and redundant expense for something used just a few days a year at most small wineries.  As long as you don't have to bottle on one particular day, the "shared facility" that doesn't require moving the wine is a terrific answer. But that's a lot of valuable equipment to put on the road with California drivers!

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Reply by shsim, Jul 31, 2012.

Wow I never knew they had mobile bottling trucks! Awesome! And great point Foxall! I noticed a number of shared wine making facilities lately. Pretty cool, especially if you want some hands on yourself. 

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Reply by outthere, Aug 1, 2012.

The whole process is fun to watch. The bottles get loaded in one end of the line. They feed one-by-one into the track and follow the conveyor.

In the photo below they firest get turned upside down, injected with Nitrogen and then turned right side up. They then go through the next carousel and get filled with wine. On the next go-round they get corks inserted.

From there they get capsules put on and spun into position.I don't think this photo shows the spinning though because the line was stopped at the time to reload capsules.

 

From this point they proceed through labeling. We then have to inspect each bottle to be sure the label lays flat with no bubbles of creases. Pinot bottles are not round but slightly off round. Labels don't always lay properly.

 

The bottles then proceed around and to the rear of the truck where the bottles are boxed.

 

Then they roll out the back of the truck where the boxes are labeled and palleted.

 

Then it is off to storage where they will rest for 8 months before release.

 

Of course, if there is any juice left in the tanks it can't go to waste. 

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Reply by jtryka, Aug 1, 2012.

That is really cool!

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Aug 1, 2012.

Yep, I'm looking forward to my hand-corked wine, courtesy of OT. 

OT does not mention another service that is offered by some bottlers:  Velcorin.  That unfiltered, unfined "natural" wine you are drinking could have both Mega Purple and Velcorin added without it being on the label, nor does it prevent the wine from carrying the meaningless moniker "natural." 

Custom crush is a fairly large business these days, and, in the boom years when every Excel jockey wanted to be a winemaker, included businesses that let you make wine with their purchased grapes right in San Francisco.  APVin actually got started that way and has done quite well.  Custom crush lets someone either use their own grapes (If you have a vineyard) or purchased grapes so you don't have the capital expenses.  (Not that there aren't other huge, fixed, upfront costs, but owning a winery with all its machinery is crazy expensive.)  Mobile bottling is a single step of getting wine into bottles from vineyard to product and can be combined with a winery that wants to do its own on-site  vinification but not invest in a bottling line, since a bottling line that you use a couple days a year is tremendously expensive.  OT, because his stepson is in the business, can give a lot more detail on how the services are priced, but I do know that crushing facilities, which are dealing with grapes that are all coming in around the same time, price their services according to demand and give preferences to winemakers that they have long-standing relationships with.  Bottling is less time sensitive--the grapes have already fermented.  OT can address this better, but I viist lots of wineries and none of them seems to have a bottling line--I haven't been to Mondavi in a long time, but one idea of the scale is that Fenestra, which produces 7500 cases a year, just built a bottling line.  Here's a great description of a permanent bottling line. For a really geeky trip down the particulars of a bottling line, here's a study of the updating of Columbia Winery's line in 2003 or so.

In spite of all this mobile technology and shared resources, producing wine in small quantities will always be expensive and loaded with front end costs, in case anyone is inspired by all this and wants to start a winery.  As they say, if you want to make a million in the wine business, you better start with ten million.  More accurately, lots of good wines have bankrupted people or at least taken a huge portion of their net worth.  Just see Cosentino and Phelan

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Reply by Craig Bilodeau, Aug 7, 2012.

Wow.  That is fantastic.  What a great idea!


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