Ah, the joy. Last week we had 10 people, 7 machines, 9 nitrogen gas cylinders, 30,000 bottles, corks and foils, 60,000 labels, one pump and one forklift all meshed together in a fine ballet that is the crux of our business. Yes, folks, it's bottling time, a dreaded event to some, a celebration to others, and most of us winemakers are somewhere in-between.
The good: the wines that were born of the vine, crushed, pressed, fermented and aged have come to their final resting place, said bottle. There is something very satisfying about this that is hard to explain, outside of the obvious accomplishment. Most of the workers seem to feel it, even though they may only have slogged through this final step. When the finished pallets of wine are all stacked up, ready to go to the warehouse, the sense of completion is quite clear. This is, in fact, what it's all about. Now the wine can be presented, shared, and enjoyed.
The bad: in a word, logistics. I gave the laundry list above of the supplies required, the staffing, the machinery. It's no small task to get the 8 different packages together with the entire industry vying for the strict attention of the suppliers. A big shocker this year was the relative disarray of the bottle suppliers. These large companies have had their challenges, for a variety of reasons, and there always seems to be a "fuel surcharge" attached to every step (don't EVEN get me started!).
In the end, our bottling went well after the months of planning and preparation. Now, as harvest looms, it's become a distant memory with all of the focus in the vineyard. Once more around, here we go.