There They Go Marching 2 by 2

There They Go Marching 2 by 2

For our first vintage, in 2014, we hand bottled every single one.

This morning, we watched as the bottling line did the whole thing for us!

Quite the business transformation in just 12 months.

So what is the process of hand bottling?

And what is the process of outsourced bottling?

Read on, dear reader!

First Release: Hand Bottling

Hand bottling is quite the involved process. There are many laborious steps and a fair amount of time needs to be invested. Of course, this is a cheap option spent dollar wise. Let’s look more closely at the process, pros and cons.

The Process of Hand Bottling

Step by step here is how we approached it:

Whites

 

  1. Prepare wine (blending etc) then raise on forklift or decant into the bottling machine.
  2. Have all the bottles on hand, have all the folded & glued boxes on standby with bottle dividers. Have a bucket of dry ice on hand. Have bag of corks on hand. Have a clean cloth on hand for drying.
  3. Place bottles under the wine outlets and activate. Release bottles as they reach 2 inches below the top of the bottles.
  4. Place a cap on the top of the bottle.
  5. Insert bottle and cap into the capping machine.
  6. Press the capping bottle (cross fingers and wear safety goggles!)
  7. Dry bottle and place in box.
  8. Repeat until all wine is in a capped bottle.
  9. Clean wine storage vessel.
  10. There’s more! Labels.
  11. Line up your bottles and carefully peel and stick front label so it is straight and in the right position with no air bubbles. Make sure all are at the same height. Turn all bottles and repeat with back label.
  12. Pick & pack as needed and seal boxes.

Reds

  1. Prepare wine (blending etc) then raise on forklift or decant into the “Little Bottler” vessel.
  2. Have all the bottles on hand, have all the folded & glued boxes on standby with bottle dividers. Have a bucket of dry ice on hand. Have bag of corks on hand. Have a clean cloth on hand for drying.
  3. Drop some dry ice into each empty bottle.
  4. Fill the bottle to about 2 inches below the top of the bottle.
  5. Sit a cork in the top of the bottle then place into the manual corker and push down lever until the cork is flush.
  6. Wipe over bottle and place in box.
  7. Repeat until all wine is bottled.
  8. Don’t rest yet! Next is wax dipping the neck of each bottle.
  9. Pre-heat crockpot of sealing wax.
  10. Dip bottle into the wax twirling the bottle for even wax distribution.
  11. Dip bottle into very cold water to seal.
  12. Set aside until wax has completely cooled.
  13. Wipe over bottle.
  14. There’s more! Labels.
  15. Line up your bottles and carefully peel and stick front label so it is straight and in the right position with no air bubbles. Make sure all are at the same height. Turn all bottles and repeat with back label.
  16. Pick & pack as needed and seal boxes.

Pro’s of Hand Bottling

  • You really feel like you have handmade every single aspect of producing the wine!

Con’s of Hand Bottling

  • Time. Manual labour takes so much longer than machinery. That is our time that could be much better spent enjoying a vino or two!
  • Health & Safety. Working with an electric crockpot of hot wax and a bowl of ice water with inquisitive pets around is not so safe. Neither is bending & flexing to do the corking/capping, filling, waxing, labelling and packing.

Why Did We Hand Bottle and Would We Do It Again?

With our 2014’s it really was a labour of love. Our volumes were too tiny to outsource the bottling.

I wouldn’t do it again, as it was so incredibly time consuming, fiddly, hard, repetitive, and boring! We had to wait 3 hours for the wax to melt in a crockpot before wax dipping our bottles. A bottle exploded in my face when using the electronic capper (the spot where the bottles sit became wet and slippery – lucky I was wearing goggles!). Labelling is painstaking to get all the front labels at the same height and then to get the back labels to match the front labels height.

I think I can speak for Rob when I say that we are both VERY happy that we don’t have to do this again!

Second Release: Outsourced Bottling

The Process of Outsourced Bottling

Step by step here is how we approached it:

  1. Sourced our bottling line.
  2. Organised our wine, bottles, labels, caps and cartons to be delivered to the bottling line.
  3. Bottling line does it’s thing and we are given pallets of our bottled, labelled & packed wines as well as our empty barrels back.

Check it out from go-to-whoa in this video:

Pro’s of Outsourced Bottling

  • So easy! The bottling line does all the filling, labelling, capping, packing and palletisation for you.
  • Time saving: no hours of laborious hand bottling, labelling, waxing and packing.

Con’s of Outsourced Bottling

  • You have to pay for the privilege.

Why Did We Outsource and Would We Do It Again?

We didn’t want a repeat of the dozens of hours spent on packaging our 2014’s – so outsourcing was a no brainer. I am so happy to retire our wax crockpot!

We will definitely use a bottling line again.

 

Have your say below – do you have a bottling preference? Have a horror story to share? 

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