British Virgin Islands
The Country Kitchen
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The past few weeks have been a very busy time for our resident Wine Maker, Dustin Osborne, and his team as they have just completed the 2017 harvest. In between his busy schedule, Dustin managed to give us some details about the various steps he has to go through in the bottling process.
All our bottling is outsourced to bottling specialists that are certified to the latest safety standards and ethical practices associated with wine production. The process begins with a huge truck arriving on the property. Hidden inside the truck is its very own mobile bottling line and equipment. The machine does most of the work and all we need to supply are the corks or Stelvin Lux (screw caps) and the empty wine bottles (plus the wine of course!) The wines we produce are referred to as bottle ready wines which means they are ready to drink from the bottle and should have a good shelf life.
Here comes the science part!
One of the ways I look to increase the longevity of the wines is to bottle the wine at less than 0.5mg/L dissolved oxygen. The lower the oxygen level, the more stable the wine will be in the bottle.
The next step is to pump the wine from the tank with a lobe pump through sheet filters into the wine filler bowl. The wine goes into the filler bowl under nitrogen to protect against any more oxygen getting into the mix. While this is happening, the bottles are loaded onto the bottling line where they are rinsed by a bottle washer with sterile filtered water. They are then turned upside down to drip out and dry before going back on to the conveyor.
Prior to being filled with wine, the bottles are flushed with nitrogen to try and displace as much oxygen as possible. The bottles are then filled with wine by the bottle filler and the volume is checked by a level filler to check the volume levels inside the target being the standard 750ml. A final blast of nitrogen is then pumped into the bottle between the wine and the cork or cap being inserted.
The process is now nearly complete. Each bottle is dated and given a tracking number for traceability applied via a small thermal printer. The bottled wines are loaded into bins and are transferred into our temperature-controlled storage room for bottle ageing prior to labelling and being released into the market. That is the bottling process finished for one season.
The next bottling is scheduled to take place in June or July so I'm already getting myself prepared. Bottling and producing wine is a very delicate but structured process. Therefore, the next time you are sipping on a Miko White or a Mont Rochelle Syrah, you'll have a better idea about what has gone into bottling it. Enjoy!
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