Our 2018 Dolcetto was a tiny vintage, so we did this bottling in just a few hours...
The wine itself was ready a few months ago, but we hit a snag - one that perhaps non-winery folks wouldn't think of: we needed the bottles. A winery usually specializes just in making the wine, but there are a lot of hidden steps between creating the liquid and selling it! For instance, the corks, capsules, labels, and the glass bottles themselves all have to come from somewhere else. A winery doesn't have a press to print out labels, or a facility for making glass, and the world of corks is another industry entirely!
So we ordered all the pieces we needed, and they began trickling in, one at a time. The glass was the last to come, and when it finally arrived at our shop (in huge pallets!), we were ready for a bottling party!
Because there isn't much of the '18 Dolcetto, our little manual bottling line was able to handle it well. We pumped the wine through a filter and into the bottler, manually loaded the bottles, pulled them off when they were full, and slid them over to the corking station. Once corked, they were packed back into their boxes and stacked on a pallet. (We'll deal with labels and capsules another day.)
We needed five people for the job: one to dump empty glass onto the table, one to fill bottles, one to insert corks, one to box full bottles and re-stack the full boxes, and of course, one to film!
Fun fact: when wineries receive empty bottles, they come already in their 12-bottle cases - but upside down with one end of the box unsealed! This is so that the glass can be slid directly onto the table right-side-up with one motion. We made a video of the whole process, so you can see it for yourself!
It's a pretty repetitive job, so we put on some tunes and made a party of it, joking and laughing and swinging through box after box of the new vintage.
Then we hit a problem; the bottler stopped filling the bottles correctly. Everything was put on hold while Jason checked over the whole line. He finally found the source: the filter had gotten clogged and the wine wasn't flowing properly though it from the tote into the bottler. There are a couple of ways to fix this kind of thing, so what we did was pull the filter out (making sure the wine didn't spill out of the hoses!), and reverse-flushed it with clean water a couple of times to clear it out. That seemed to fix the problem, so we re-assembled the pieces and got back to work.
We wound up with about 65 cases, stacked proudly on their pallet and just waiting now to be drunk. So head on over to our store and get some for yourself - don't leave them sitting there neglected and lonely!