You might wonder how the wine is coming from our crushed Montepulciano grapes - the ones we crushed after last year's harvest. Well...That is still sitting in some barrels with oak. But now we get to deal take the wine from the 2013 vintage to the next step - bottling. Before getting to this point though, the +/- 55 gallons of wine in two small barrels has been racked and racked - siphoning the still wine away from the settled out solids. Before I go on, let me clarify that the photos you see are the actual process (in my kitchen!) of bottling Montepulciano wine. My kitchen island has been moved to make room for the carboys, bottles and corker. Like most things in our life, this is a family affair and everyone participated. So, after working in the vineyard all day pruning and after taking showers (most of them anyway!) - it was now time to bottle!
Beforehand, the wine bottles had to be washed - no need wasting wine in a dirty bottle. Being frugal, we save our old bottles rather than buy new ones. New ones would come sterilized and ready to fill, but washing is really not that difficult (especially when John does it) - you pay for convenience! The wine was decanted (racked) from the barrels to glass carboys (each holding 5 gallons), which were brought into the kitchen and an assembly line set up. John uses a long piece of tubing and starts a siphon to begin the wine flow from the carboy to the wine bottle. Of course, he takes the opportunity to thoroughly taste the wine at this point! He holds the bottle low to the ground (faster filling) until it is almost full and then raises it above the level in the carboy to slow and stop the flow. Otherwise, there would be wine wasted all over the floor (hence the towel)! The filled bottle is then handed off to the operator of the corking press. As the handle is pressed down, the cork is compressed and forced into the bottle. Once corked, the bottle is inspected to make sure the cork is all the way in and not damaged - why let the wine spoil or leak out at this point in the process. The bottles are then organized by size and shape - because we save old ones, we have all different style bottles. It is easier to pack them into cases if they are the same type bottle. This is just a few of the bottles that were together - they were all over the kitchen floor - when all the 2013 Montepulciano was bottled we had 21 cases! Finally comes the labeling. Since this is home wine making (less than 200 gal per adult), there is no need for label approval by a government official as is necessary for wineries. From 2013's vintage, we made only Montepulciano so for us the label really isn't necessary - we know what the bottle contains! But, we enjoy giving wine to friends and family so the labels allow others to know what we are giving! Even though this Montepulciano wine is young, it is full of character with a wonderful bouquet. I can't wait until it has had an opportunity to age and mellow - thus we are drinking some now as I write! How about you, have you ever made wine at home?