Bottling - all hands on deck
Next to harvest, the event which calls for all hands on deck here is bottling. A mobile bottling plant (a well-fitted semi-trailer) rolls up, and we gather a crew to scramble around outside it, doing all the jobs the plant leaves to humans: putting bottles on to the bottle washer apparatus, then taking the bottles -- which have been filled with wine, screw-capped (or corked) and labelled -- off the line, packing them into cartons, and carefully placing them on pallets.
Of course, bigger companies have a bottling plant which does every bit of that and more. Our cartons arrive flat-folded, so someone has to unfold them and make sure they’re facing right-way up when handed to the carton-packer. Big companies don’t need to bother with that.
Getting the young ones in the family to work on the bottling line is a great opportunity to bring home the message of the importance of a uni education. It may also explain why so few family wineries have solid succession plans.
But the real challenge of bottling is not getting the empty bottle from one side of the plant to where it can rest, filled and fitted out, on a pallet ready for shipment. The challenge is getting all the bits and pieces bottles of different shape or hue, corks or caps, capsules (covering the corks/caps), labels, and cartons (all ordered from different companies) delivered here on site, in the right quantity and quality, in time for the big day. That’s a logistical exercise requiring military precision.
Bottles are being delivered Monday at 11am. Bottling commences 8am Tuesday. Our watches are synchronised; we’re ready to go!