I have had some extra time over the last few weeks and I have been trying to take advantage of this time to learn more about the wine industry, from the inside. Breaux Vineyards has been kind enough to provide me with volunteer opportunities, and I have tried to take advantage of them.
My first chance at volunteering was with the bottling of the 2006 Nebbiolo. I thought this was great because I am a huge fan of their Nebbiolo, so getting a chance to bottle it seemed like a good match.
I've seen the Breaux Vineyards bottling line a dozen times over the years, but I've never seen it in action. The way it is set up is actually very effective and just a handful of us were able to knock out 400+ cases in a few hours.
The way it works: One or two people start by opening the cases with the empty bottles and putting them on the conveyer. It is actually as simple as slicing the tape on the bottom of the case of bottles and dropping them on the conveyer.
The bottles travel through the bottling line to the washing station, then they are filled with wine. After getting filled with wine, they are corked, rinsed and bottled. One person monitors their progress to make sure nothing gets stuck and the fills all look correct.
After getting corked, the bottles head down the conveyer to a drop off point, where we would put them back in the same boxes and seal them up. This often involved waiting around while the guy inside was fixing problems with the conveyer or checking on the bottles. At other times it was like Lucy and Ethel at the chocolate factory trying to keep up with all the bottles coming at us.
As the cases were filled and sealed they were placed on palettes, the palettes were wrapped and then taken off to the bottle room to sit in storage for another year or so before the wine will be officially released.
Surprisingly, bottling was a lot of fun -- at least for the few hours I did it. I am sure if it was my Monday-Friday, 8 hour a day, job it wouldn't be nearly as much fun.