Vintage Report: Discover the Magic of Wine Bottling Inside a Mobile Wine Bottling Truck
It’s bottling season in the Dundee Hills! The ‘22 vintage started out with hibernating vines, developed into ripened grape clusters, was harvested in mid-fall, began fermentation and then enjoyed a long cellar season, where they spent the past few months aging during the long winter. Now some of these ‘22 varietals, like Rosé and Pinot Gris, have made their way to the final stage: the bottle!
In the cellar, wines were blended in tanks to achieve desired characteristics and then underwent heat and cold stabilization to ensure they would maintain their integrity during transportation and storage. Wines that are filtered go through a mechanical process which clarifies and sterilizes the wine in the final step before it’s bottled.
While some wineries have their own bottling line, it is not cost-effective for most, so they rely on bottling trucks for this process. A bottling truck in action is an efficient, visual spectacle that allows empty bottles to be placed on the “manufacturing line” and then the wine, cork, capsule and labels are all applied through a completely mechanized process. It can yield up to 270 cases (or 3,240 bottles) of wine in an hour!
Once the empty bottles are in place on one side of the truck, they pass through a sparger that inverts them and injects nitrogen gas to displace any oxygen, ensuring the wine remains sterile.
The bottles are then mechanically placed upright, filled with wine and then progress to the corker. A suction straw adjusts the wine level to exactly 750 ml, and the cork is inserted.
The bottle then passes through the capsule machine, where the foil is secured onto the glass.
Finally, the labels are mechanically applied to the front and back.
The bottles are then handled by the winery staff and packed into boxes, sealed with tape, and stacked onto pallets.
Bottling season in the Dundee Hills is a meticulous and intricate process requiring careful handling and attention to detail as winemakers take great care to ensure the quality and integrity of their wines from vine to bottle. The art and science of winemaking culminate in this final step before the vintages are ready to be released and enjoyed by wine enthusiasts around the world.
All photos by Mick Hangland-Skill