Sunday, April 10, 2011

From the Vine to your Glass: Bottling

I decided that it would be fun to do pieces on the different aspects of wine making. As I'm sure you've deduced by now, I love to learn. Some of my favorite wine adventures have come in learning experiences (remember that Bordeaux blending I did? Awesome!). For this series, I'll focus on separate pieces of the wine making process. Maybe take a tour through a vineyard, help out with crush, and of course, bottling. I'll do a separate write-up on each of these different activities. My first post in the series (obviously not in any sort of order) is on bottling. Enjoy!

I've always enjoyed volunteering with wineries. One local winery that I have helped out on a few occasions now is Northwest Totem Cellars, so when Mike Sharadin posted a note saying he was looking for a few volunteers for a Saturday afternoon of bottling, I jumped at the opportunity. The winery is located at the home of owners Mike and Kate Sharadin, located on the Redmond/Woodinville border. Mike has his own bottling equipment, but every winery does things a little bit differently. Mike stated that a lot of the smaller wineries have their own small bottling set-ups and once they reach a certain size (i.e. they reach a certain case production), they will utilize a mobile bottling truck. This truck is basically a bottling line on wheels and provides all the necessary equipment for bottling. Mike estimated that up to 85% of wineries in this area bottle using the mobile truck. At Northwest Totem Cellars, the bottling line is set up in an area designated for this purpose. The volunteers each had a specific responsibility in the line. Once we got going, we were bottling about 45 cases an hour! At 12 bottles to the case, that was a whopping 540 bottles that went by in just ONE hour of bottling. On this day we were bottling two separate wines. We started with the 2008 Qo-ne, which is a blend of 60% Cabernet Franc, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Syrah, and 2% Petit Verdot. We bottled up 102 cases of the Qo-ne, which comes out to 1,224 bottles! WOW. It doesn't hit you just how many bottles go through the line until you do the math on it! After a lunch break, catered by Kate Sharadin, we headed back out to bottle up the 2008 Sangiovese. We bottled 62 cases of the Sangiovese, or 744 bottles. It was a lot of fun to be a part of the process!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Taste Washington - Seattle, WA

Waiting for Taste Washington each year is like counting down to Christmas. There's all of this excitement leading up to it and then the day comes and it's pretty magical and then the day after you become all depressed when you realize you have a year until the next one! This year was no different. As per usual, I spent hours at the event and still wasn't able to try everything I wanted to. My "try new stuff" plan only worked partially, as I was still stopping to chat with winemakers I knew, but I did manage to stick to trying new wines of theirs that I had yet to taste. All in all, a fantastic event and I give serious kudos to the Washington Wine Commission for hosting another stellar Taste Washington. Sadly, I missed out on the seminars as I was just getting back from vacation that day, but the Grand Taste was fantastic and I have some highlights to share...