H o w
B o t t l e
When a good friend walked into the cellar and watched us bottling, he said,
"This is crazy"
He was young, and the word crazy has a quite good connotation in his speak.
But in older-speak, it is a little crazy.
We bottle in the slowest, least efficient,
in the highest quality manner possible.
Bottling is a very traumatic event for someone that has been nurturing wine through
its first two years of life. It's sort of like giving birth in reverse,
it's sort of like sending the kids off to college.
Here's the creative-tension of both moments:
Birth-in-reverse says you don't get to play with and nurture your kid anymore.
Admittedly, the bottle and cork are taking very good care of the wine,
but that's the end of intervention. You can no longer do the doings and non-doings.
Now only the unseen-worlds of intentions can help.
And that's OK.
After all, another vintage is coming for its nurturance.
But there's this additional issue of sending-the-kids-off-to-college.
It's an issue because you don't know to which college they are going.
When you bottle wine, its not like you are cooking for a dinner party.
Cooking and winegrowing are very similar, but in growing-up wine, you are not
necessarily going to get to sit across from the person that will enjoy that wine.
You aren't going to know everyone that is going to be enjoying those bottles.
And I want to be at all of those dinner parties.
So as I sit with a bottle in my hand, taking it off the filling spout,
I know I am setting this one particular bottle off on its own journey.
It's sweet: often enough, they do write home and tell you about their collegian fate.
So given that I, like most sensitive people, want to limit trauma,
I decided to bottle with as little machinery and technology as possible
to be able to just enjoy that last moment in the driveway as everyone waves goodbye,
so to speak.
With machines breaking down, or needing fine tuning, or making noise...
it's sort of hard to reflect upon and appreciate the moment of individuation.
Thus, we bottle by hand, with six small siphon tubes.
Unlike a bottling machine spout, which sprays the wine until the bottle is about
three quarters full, the siphon hose goes all the way to the bottom of the bottle.
I gently turn a little cute valve, and the wine starts to flow
into the bottle with no splashing or agitation.
It is completely consistent with my belief that food should be laid upon a plate,
rather than plopping it there from a few inches above. That food is the material of thanksgiving,
and dropping it, instead of placing it, seems to miss the moment of respect.
We cork by hand, without a vacuum, for three reasons:
The first two reasons only a purist could love.
First, to generate a vacuum is noisy,
and second, the vacuum pulls a tiny amount of volatiles out of the wine.
The third and last reason is crazy-crazy if you are in an automated winery.
Because there is no vacuum pulled on the wine just before it's corked,
the Nitrogen gas we use to sparge the bottles with, is compressed.
What this means is that you have to wait to see if the cork is going to back out
due to the pressure. Waiting while bottling is crazy. But the wait is worth it.
It's only the defective corks that are too soft that will back out.
Even though we buy the highest grade corks from one of the best companies,
( they cost almost a buck apiece )
we found 105 of them that didn't come up to our standards.
Fill and cork, that's it, no labeling. And then the wine gets to bottle age for two years or more.
The label and capsule come later.
The reason for this is because it's the traditional way to do it.
However, there is another reason.
No matter what anybody tells you, no matter how much experience you have,
you don't know how an unfiltered bottling is going to come out.
So not putting on the label and capsule keeps you a little bit more honest.
If something isn't up to our standards,
it's that much easier to make the decision to redirect that bottling.
It is all because, if the bottling strays from our standards,
what's the chance you will say ahhhhhhh,
when that moment comes?