August 4, 2011, bottling date

by Jeff Miller of Artisan Family of Wines (Seven Artisans, Sly Dog Cellars, Red Côte)

jeff-smI’ve been wanting to do a small bottling for several months now. In fact, I’d even had a date, but label approval torpedoed that effort. So as it happened the winery that I share with a number of other producers got a bottling date for August 4. One of the participating wineries cancelled, so I got the chance to bottle a few hundred cases.

Of course, all this happened pretty much at the last minute. I had my label approvals already, thank God, along with some preliminary preparation from my last failed bottling attempt. So when asked if I would participate so that the mobile bottler would reach its daily minimum (the amount they charge even if you have less to bottle), I jumped at the chance.

So now I’m immersed in the pre-bottling process. We’re going to do a small amount (about 90 cases) of our 2007 Meritage. Of course, even though you’ve already done the blend, you can’t resist tasting it again and seeing if it can be tweaked, which we did last Thursday, and decided adding a little Malbec fleshed out the wine some.

The Montepulciano we’d already decided to bottle as 100% Montepulciano, so no last minute blending trials were required. This is the first bottling of our Montepulciano, so I’m excited about this, since I love the wine. But I can’t help but feel some trepidation about being able to sell a wine that’s not Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot into a marketplace that isn’t always rushing to accept something new and different.

The more mundane things also need to be attended to. Bottles need to be ordered, as well as corks. The label printing needs to be arranged as well. I’d alerted all these suppliers right away once I knew the bottling was a possibility, so they were all in line to come through in time to get everything to the bottling line.

Since we’re bottling both the Meritage and the Montepulciano under the Seven Artisans label, which doesn’t use a capsule, at least we were able to avoid getting that chore done.

So as things now stand, the glass will go to the printer on Monday, and be transported to the winery sometime later in the week. The corks will be ready by Friday, and I’ll go pick them up. Still need to coordinate with the bottler who produces the case labels (not a good idea if you produce a case of wine but there’s nothing on the outside saying what it is—it’s a federal requirement as well).

So all seems to be going smoothly, even though the time frames are tight. Hopefully by this time next week I’m still feeling as comfortable about this as I do today. One hitch, and it can all come apart.

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