Tag Archives: bottling

Wow, How Can Harvest be Right Around the Corner?

Veraison 2015


We have veraison!!! (grapes turn from green to red)

What does that mean:
– I have to finish any final preparations to the vineyard before the nets go up in 3 weeks…drop week canes, final sprays, leafing, etc.
– With the light crop I have this year, looks like harvest will be the end of Aug.
– I need to bottle my 2014 Pinot Noir to free up space for the 2015!!!

BTW, my new harvest estimate is:
– 3 tons Pinot Noir
– 250 lbs Merlot
– 180 lbs Sauvignon Blanc

Where did the year go? I know I’m getting older but it seems like I just finished making wine from 2014.

Winemaking Equipment -Enolmatic Filler

wine filler


I just finished a wine class from Vinquiry that focused on bottling and the keys to good wine preservation.  It was stressed over and over that oxygen is great for humans to breath,  but for wine after fermentation is complete, you have to limit the oxygen.

What does that me to a small winery.  After primary and malolactic fermentation is complete and you have racked your wine, give it a good dose of sulfur to stop any further fermentation, say 75-100ppm, depending on the pH of the wine.  Then resist the temptation to taste every week.  If you are using a flex tank, you can let it sit for several months since you won’t have any evaporation.  Sulfur as necessary and when you deem the wine is ready, rack one last time.  If you process >50 cases I would recommend a small vacuum filler like the Enolmatic.  It pulls a vacuum in the bottle and fills wine from your tank to the bottle.  Again…very little oxygen.  Then cork right away with a good quality cork.

They claim that the Enolmatic will fill a bottle every 10 seconds.  When we did the Sauvignon Blanc we added a 1u filter.  This slowed the process down but resulted in a very clean/clear wine.  When we do the Pinot in the fall, we will not use a filter to preserve the flavors in the wine.  The one draw back we have seen so far is that the level in the bottle was a little hard to control.  I’m guessing it was due to our inexperience and the filter…hopefully we will improve when we bottle in September.

Oh…it runs about $400, so with the corker, labeler and renting or borrowing a spinner you will spend about $1000 getting you wine from a tank to a bottle.

Winemaking Equipment – Labeler



Now onto the labeler.  Again, most items in the “small winery” seem to be at least $1,000.  I looked around the web and found a bottle labeler from the website www.easylabeler.com  and it was only $399.

We tried it out last week while bottling our 2013 Turtle Vines Sauvignon Blanc.  It took me a little while to set it up the way I wanted it, but once it was set up it worked like a champ.  I think if you had a partner handing you the bottles, you could do at least 10 cases/hr.

After you fill, cork and label you need to add foil to the top of the bottle.  Many folks use heat shrink plastic…not good in my taste.  You can either wax them or put metal foils on top.  That is the route we chose.  Historically the foils were made of lead, but now they have switched to tin for obvious reasons.  You would think that a foil spinner would be inexpensive, but it is over $1100.  So…I borrowed one for this run and in the future will probably rent one for $50/day.  Even I have a limit on spending money on wine equipment!

One last word on foils.  Make sure the foil size and the bottle size match.  If not, then when you “spin” them the foil will have lots of wrinkles or won’t fit on the bottle.  We know from experience.  Another thing…you have to purchase 1800 at a time…so make sure you carefully select you bottle size or you will be stuck with a lot of extra foils.

Adjusting Acids



It is May 19th…and this is probably the busiest and most important month in the vineyard with shoot thinning, weeding, spraying, shoot positioning with c-clips just to name a few.

So why do I have a picture of wine and beer glasses?  Well, it is time to bottle our 2013 Sauvignon Blanc.  Before you bottle, you have to make sure the wine has the right taste, and in our case we have had to add tartaric acid.  For those not aware, if a wine does not have enough acid it will taste flat and to much acid and it is very tart.  For our Sauvignon Blanc we have found that 7.6 g/l is just about right and for our Pinot Noir, 5.8 g/l is perfect to our tastes.

We will let the Sauvignon Blanc sit a few days and then later this week will bottle this delicious wine!  Very limited quantities, so if your are in the neighborhood, ask for a taste.

PS…in case you were wondering from the picture…it takes a lot of beer to make great wine!!!

Winemaking Classes at Vinquiry !

Vinquiry Logo


Vinquiry, a wine analysis lab, is holding a 5 part class, Craft Winemaking , over the next 5 months.  I have signed up to add to my practical experience with technical, scientific supported data.  It is designed for those in the industry who would like to know more about the entire process and winemakers to go from making good wine to great wine.  I’m hoping to continue to add to my knowledge so each vintage my wine is better!  At the end of the classes I’ll summarize the actions and implement them with my 2014 vintage.

Introduction to Winemaking – Overview of the process, concept of style, sanitation, equipment and winery choices, overview of analysis, SO2 management, sensory evaluation.

Maturation and ageing – Goals of aging, how to work with small lots, container choices, racking, protection wine during aging and movements, fining and treatments, potential problems and their prevention and treatment.

Finishing and Bottling – Stabilization, additions, clarification, filtration, blending, quality control, bottling and bottling equipment, packaging.

Grapes and Grape Processing – Sourcing grapes, vineyard sampling, picking decision, crushing (or not), crushing and pressing equipment, fermenters, temperature control, must and juice treatments/additions.

Fermentation – Yeast (or not), nutrition, fermentation management and monitoring, cap management, malolactic fermentation, problem fermentations, problem recognition and treatment.



Bottling the 2012 Pinot Noir

us cropped tent

What a day…March 11, 2014…we just bottled our 2012 Pinot Noir!  We started with 96 gallons and filled 39 1/2 cases.

If you want to start from scratch and “Live the Dream”, plan on at least 5 years to grow the grapes, ferment them, let the red wine age until it is ready for a bottle…and another 3 months until bottle shock has worn off for you to drink it.

It was a great time with our 6 of our friends to bottle the wine.  John (EMTU Vineyards) and I set everything up in 3 hours the day before…and then it took us another 3 hours to bottle and clean-up.  The really great part is over 1/2 the crew was there when the grapes were harvested in 2012.

bottles in truck

Here are the empty bottles.

liz bottle

Liz handled the bottling.

joey cork

Joey and Enrique handle the corking.



John label

John did the labeling.

lauren chris


Chris and Lauren put on the capsules, did a quality check and packaged them up.

Bill and I unloaded the bottles from the cases, moved the filled cases to the truck and of course sampled the product during the day to make sure it was OK to drink!

What you get from small wineries is a hand crafted product that is  painstakingly farmed, carefully fermented and aged , and lovingly bottled. I hope those qualities come through when you taste the wine.

2012 Turtle Vines Sauvignon Blanc

SB Bottling


Sunday we bottled our 2012 Sauvignon Blanc! It is DELICIOUS !!!

If you have been following along, Joey has her vines in the front of the house that were planted in 2011. She gives them much love and they responded by producing fruit the second year, which is quite unusual.

We harvested the crop last fall and made wine. As an experiment we took one gallon and put it through malolactic fermentation and the other we did not.(we ended up with 20 half bottles) The one without malolactic fermentation was a classic Sauvignon Blanc, crisp and full of grapefruit flavor. The second one was smoother and the one Joey prefers, so this is how we will produce her wine this year.

If you get a chance to sample this wine, consider yourself lucky. We are hoping to get enough fruit for 4-5 cases this year, so there will be more to go around.

SB Glasses