Thursday, April 03, 2008

Bottling Day Photos

Hey folks!

I didn't get an opportunity to take very many photos during the process as all available hands were on the line working, but follow the link below to see a handful of pictures from our April 1st bottling.

I was grateful that this bottling was small since it was our first time managing the process from start to finish. Inconveniences with suppliers were many, mistakes to be corrected happened, but overall the logistics came together and even the rain stayed away for just one more day.

Once the truck finally settled in (after much ado about the driveway and tree limb) and was sterilized, we hooked the hoses up, got the people in their work positions and hit the big green "Go" button!

Earplugs were passed around, thankfully, and for the most part the operation went very smoothly. There was some fine tuning needed with the fill level of the bottles, the depth of the corks, and the position of the new labels. Once we got started though, we all found or rhythm and hustled through two hours of hands-on assembly line work.

Loading empty bottles onto the line was Millie, getting empty boxes to the end of the line was Kathy - both of them short enough to fit under the overhead racks. The bottle fill station, cork station and label station were all monitored by the bottling crew, then Daniel and I were at the tail end putting the full bottles back into the cases.

We struggled at first, but with coaching from the bottling crew we found a great rhythm and hustled through the two hours.

Paul told me later that he and Jerry were sweating keeping up with us - they had to stop loading the finished cases on pallets when there was an empties pallet change. He thinks next time we bottle we'll need one or two more bodies to keep the flow moving better.

I thought we did just fine, but that's because I had my head down and focused on my bottle count the entire time - and the earplugs kept me from getting too distracted.

An enormous THANK YOU to our crew, Jerry Anderson "Winemaker Emeritus" for coaching us, the folks at Top It Off Bottling, and CWT for taking such good care of us.

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