July 7, 1999
We got the Pinot Noir 4-packs bottled today. We had originally planned to do it yesterday but we have had the usual start-up problems with the new bottling line. There was one major glitch which I won't go into now, but I am extremely happy with the quality of the equipment and the control I have over the wine. We actually bottled about 15 cases of carbonic, 15 cases of cold soak, and 15 cases of the hot fermentation. That left us with approximately 25 cases of the blend. We will separate the 4 packs later, but at this time we have the wines packed in 12-bottle cases according to each type. Now that our bottling line is flowing fairly smoothly, we should be able to do the 500 cases of Neighbors' Cuvee tomorrow and 500 cases of the Neighbors' Zinfandel on Friday.
July 8, 1999
The bottling went about as well as could be expected today. It is such a joy to have complete control over the bottling process. As I have mentioned in the past, by having our own bottling line, we can completely drain out any water or wine left in the machine after each run of a different wine. Of course water must be used at the end of each day for cleaning purposes and I am a believer that some sanitation is necessary, but pumping an excessive amount of water though the bottling line is in my opinion unnecessary. In other words, the water becomes trapped within the lines, and so to get every last drop out requires a lot of time and effort but is absolutely essential. And although the mobile bottlers (these are the huge bottling lines that are housed in big semi trucks that travel from winery to winery) do put a lot of effort into cleaning their systems, they do not seem to fully understand that even a little bit of water or a little bit of the previous wine left in the line can change the quality of the product. They are not winemakers and do not have the same passion as we do.
We ended up with about 520 cases of Neighbors' Cuvee after bottling today, and I have sold about half of that at this point. I am impressed with the wine, but of course being 50 percent Cabernet, it does need some time to develop in the bottle. Tomorrow we will be bottling the Neighbors' Zinfandel, and at this stage it has very forward fruit and should be a popular wine. Unfortunately, we are sold out of this wine as can be noted on our web site. At this point, we will only have our 1998 Neighbors' Cuvee available for sale. However, it does appear that we may have a little more of our estate wines for sale again because of our cool spring months, which meant less wine evaporation and thus less topping off, and more wine available to bottle. We'll know more about this next week once we actually get the estate wines in the bottles.
July 9, 1999
We were successful in getting the 500 cases of Neighbors' Zin bottled today, although the foil spinning machine (the part of the equipment that puts the foil on the neck of the bottle) broke down and I had to make a trip to Windsor for a replacement part. Despite two hours' of down time, Steve and I were able to get the spinner back in order and the crew finished bottling about 5:30. Since they started working out in the vineyard at 6:00 o'clock this morning., it was a very long day for them. But they left with two bottles of wine each and big smiles on their faces!
Pat took some digital photos of the crew at work today, so once we figure
out how to upload them to the diary page, we'll give you something to see
in the next few days.