August 3, 2011
Amazing Volunteers Produce Incredible Results
Dean arrived at R-winery a little after 6am on a wonderfully cool and overcast morning. All bottles, corks, labels, gases, cleaning equipment and blended wines has been pre-staged by Dean the night before so the “band” could begin their performance by 7:30 am.
Band members arrived to find the Castoro Bottling crew already setting up their “factory on wheels”. The Dusi refrigerated truck was in place and ready to receive pallets of finished cased goods to be transported to R-storage facilities. We began sanitizing hoses, valves and fittings.
A quick pose by Bill and Roberto before the bottling line began to roll… for the rest of the day it would stop only for lunch (and briefly between wine change-overs) meaning that everyone was in constant motion from that moment on.
After the crew carefully calibrates the label positions, corking depth, and fill depth, the bottling truck mechanically sparges the bottlings with nitrogen, fills them with wine, pulls a slight vacuum and inserts a cork, then applies the labels, all under the watchful eye of the crew and R-winery’s own quality control team (Danny, Chelsea and Austin).
R-team uses a forklift to load a pallet of empty bottles (60 cases at 12 bottles per case) onto the tailgate platform of the bottling truck, and then feeds the empty bottles onto the bottling truck conveyor. They also check each full bottle as it emerges (filled, sealed and labeled) before inserting it cork-down into its case.
The finished cases are automatically taped shut and slide down a roller ramp to the waiting arms of the pallet team (Jordan, Jason and Dylan) which applies a wine label plus a date / bonded winery number stamp. At this moment, R-wines are declared as “tax paid” and no longer under federal or state tax bonds. (Mountains of government paperwork associated with this year’s production will thereafter require Dean to spend many late nights completing reports, calculating and paying taxes, and otherwise filling out complex forms for a dozen local, state and federal entities.)
The cases of wine are then stacked onto a pallet, ultimately along with 60 others just like it before stretch wrap is applied to bind all of the cases into a safely transportable cube on this pallet. The pallet is then loaded by forklift onto the refrigerated truck to be taken to R-storage facilities. R-team simultaneously builds “mixed” pallets within the winery itself to supply wines which will be used in the tasting room and for R-Fan Club pick-up.
R-Thanks to everyone on this fantastic 2011 bottling team. These 2009 reds and 2010 white and rose’ wines promise to be some of the best we have ever put into bottle!