August 18, 2011
Every August and January, we wake up to the sound of glass against glass as our wine gets bottled – and it continues for the rest of day - for an entire week. Over the years, as I have become accustomed to this sound and begun to understand the process, it is less discordant and more musical. This week, we are bottling over 5,000 cases consisting of 12 different wines from the 2010 vintage.
Bottling, the last step in the winemaking process, is an exercise in organization and synchronization. Months in advance, label designs are finalized and sent to the liquor board for approval. As soon as this is received, labels have to be ordered from the printer, press-checks scheduled and shipping arrangements made so the labels arrive in time for application. Simultaneously, the glass bottles, cases and corks are selected and ordered. For each, there is a very rigorous quality control process…and the road is not always smooth.
With all these variables in the mix, bottling preparation requires constant communication between departments. Marketing designs the labels, accounting submits them for approval and the winery sends them to the printer in addition to ordering all the bottling supplies. When things go wrong, tempers flare and the Lynmar life can become a tad stressful. The liquor board rejects a label or the bottle, which was perfect when the vendor presented it, does not have the exact curve we specified, making the applied label look lopsided. This year, the press broke just as the last batch of labels were being printed, causing an enormous amount of stress for the bottling crew. Nonetheless, we go on and the wine gets bottled.
A relatively mechanical process for the people on the line, bottling is nerve-wracking for the winemaker who must watch every step with an eagle eye to make sure that the product she so lovingly crafted is treated with the greatest care and presented exactly to her specifications. Bottles are removed from their packaging and nitrogen is injected to remove the oxygen. Then, the bottles are filled, corked and the capsules are applied. Each bottle is manually checked to make sure it is filled exactly to the same level and the capsules are even. The labels are applied and the bottles get packed in cases, sealed and palletized to be sent from our care to the warehouse where they will age for almost a year before being released.
By the end of the day, we will have bottled more than half of the 2010 vintage. There is a tremendous sense of satisfaction seeing our precious wine in the caves ready to go. With them, they take the blood, sweat, tears and love of the entire Lynmar team.
Meanwhile, the preparations for another harvest are beginning….