Monday, April 9, 2012


The Bottling Truck

March 14, 2012
April helped out with bottling at Milagro this week. Home in San Diego after a long day, her first thought was, "Wow - I'll never look at a wine bottle the same way again!" Here are the details:

Our work started with re-stacking and moving pallets to make room for all the newly bottled wine. Most of the heavy lifting involved a forklift or pallet jack navigated by winemaker Jim or farm managers Tony and Olga. We volunteers made sure that plenty of wine was ready for the tasting room crew.

Moving stuff around
While we rearranged things, bottling truck owners Dan and Rebecca were busy sterilizing and preparing the system that would transport a big batch of Sauvignon Blanc from its tank to theirs.

Prepping the lines
In the blue wheel, nitrogen sterilizes the bottles

Filling bottles of Sauvignon Blanc

We finished the day with a small batch of Rosé.

This machine seals foil capsules over the corks.

The wine travels through a filter into the bottles, which then pass through some rather ingenious corking machinery. After that come foil caps, labels, quality control, and then the bottles are ready to box up and stack on pallets. With competent humans stationed all along the production line, it all functions like clockwork, right? Well, maybe on a really good day. But next time you look at a  bottle of wine, pay attention to its shape, the material the label is made of, and the label's position. Then think about how easy or difficult it would be for a machine to smoothly attach that label to bottles coming along a conveyor belt. We certainly encountered some challenges during the day's first bottling, but nothing will go to waste. The experience made me seriously consider, for the first time, the effort boutique wineries put into their packaging - from the color and weight of the glass to the size and composition of the cork to, of course, the label. At the end of the day we'd bottled almost 500 cases. Besides the satisfaction  of a job well done, we'd made new wine-lover friends. I wouldn't want to do this every day, but I'd certainly do it again.

April 9, 2012
Update: The next day another crew helped bottle two more Milagro Estate wines (vintage 2010): a classic, well balanced Sangiovese and a standout Barbera with dry cherry on the front and nice tannins on the finish. Mmmm... We had the Barbera with dinner last night.

Link to first Milagro post...

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