Bottling Line Blues

Every time we start bottling I have flashbacks. I'm 15 or 16 years old, in high school and spending many a weekend and lots of school vacations working on our bottling line. We (Dry Creek Vineyard) were actually one of the highest paying gigs in town and it sure beat a job flipping hamburgers at Arctic Circle or at the old Healdsburg A & W Root Beer.

Things were a lot different then. Labels were affixed by hand using a small rolling glue machine and a wooden template that we'd hold in our lap so we could line the front and back labels up straight. There were 4 or 5 of us on the line, all laughing and joking, anxiously awaiting our mid morning break or lunch hour. These same people also made the wine, sold the wine, poured in the tasting room, etc. It was those early days on the bottling line that made me swear I'd never work for the winery when I grew up. No sirreee. I had better things to do with my life! But somehow the call of the family business and the prospect of helping build something really special brought me back full-time in 1986.

Bottling is one of the most strenuous, tedious, and difficult jobs. And, it's a job that few have experienced yet is paramount to quality wine production. In fact it's so important that we put in a spiffy new (EXPENSIVE) one last year. Not the most gratifying way to spend money, but certainly a necessity for us since our previous equipment was ancient.


So the next time you pop a cork and enjoy a glass of wine, think of the people who labored to fill that bottle. Who stood on the cold concrete all day long, lifting boxes, loading pallets, making sure the fill line was correct, the label was straight, etc.

They deserve a big pat on the backĀ…trust me, I know.

| | Comments (3)


Cheyanne Jordan Author Profile Page said:
March 25, 2008 11:46 AM

Your story reminds me of the day I worked with our cellar crew during Harvest about 4 years ago. Dressed in my jeans, and a DCV t-shirt, I thought to myself, "How difficult could this really be?"

I spent the day doing a variety of jobs, but the one I remember most was raking the pumice out of a tank after the grapes had been pressed. I used muscles that I never knew I had!

Needless to say, the next morning, I didn't ask myself the same question because my sore muscles were reminding me how laboring it is to work a day during Harvest, much like you experienced on the bottling line. And to think that the cellar crew works the ENTIRE Harvest, not just a day!

Since that day, I have a real appreciation for the DCV cellar crew and the hard work and dedication they have to the processes that lead to producing quality wines. I was very thankful to go back to my job in the air-conditioned business offices.

Matt Author Profile Page said:
March 27, 2008 1:55 PM

I rememer two cases of previous employers, who will remain nameless, who had disastorous bottling experiences. At one place they bottled a large portion of an entire vintage with a front label of one varietal and back label of another. We discovered later - in the market. Ouch. Another place did a label upside down. And these wines came all the way from Spain and no one noticed until they got to the stores.

Kim (aka Wilma) Author Profile Page said:
March 28, 2008 1:00 PM

Your story reminds me of the time when we printed labels with a huge typo. It was ages ago (maybe 1984?)and despite several people's eyes, the label said the appellation was Sonoma Couny!Thankfully, we caught the mistake before the wine was labeled, but it was costly AND frustrating to say the least.

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This page contains a single entry by Kim published on March 25, 2008 10:08 AM.

Wine and Emotions was the previous entry in this blog.

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