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In the world of wine, it’s easy to take the act of bottling for granted. Everyone likes to see vineyards and barrels, and to taste the finished product. But who goes out of their way to think about bottling?
Yet for those willing to take a closer look, bottling is, in fact, a fascinating ballet of moving parts. As we get set to bottle our 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, here’s a breakdown of what it takes:
First, cases of empty bottles are emptied onto a conveyer. From there, each bottle is sparged with inert nitrogen gas. Since nitrogen is heavier than air, it displaces any oxygen in the bottle.
Next, each bottle is filled along a wheel of 18 individual nozzles for simultaneous and continuous filling. At full speed, it can fill up to 60 bottles per minute, or one every second. And remember that nitrogen? Since it displaced the air from the bottles, the wine doesn’t come into contact with any potentially problematic oxygen as it fills the bottle.
At this point, the process for our Sauvignon Blanc and other screw-capped wines deviates from our corked wines. As the filled Sauvignon Blanc bottles continue down the conveyer, a laser detects each bottle, triggering a drop of liquid nitrogen into the top of the bottle, where it immediately turns into inert gas. That last drop of nitrogen is crucial, because screw-capped bottles have larger head space in the neck compared to corked bottles. The gas ensures an air-free environment to keep the wine fresh and vibrant.
Next, a screw cap is applied, and then crimped onto the bottle. From there, the bottles are labeled under the watchful eyes of quality control staff, who remove any bottles with crooked labels or other defects.
When things are really humming at 60 bottles per minute, our mobile bottling line can produce up to 300 cases per hour. So while bottling may not be the sexiest part of winemaking, it’s certainly action packed, and it’s the final step on the wine’s journey from ground to glass.
We are excited to share that Sunset magazine has named Ancient Peaks Winery as one of just four finalists in the category of “Best Vineyard / Brewery Experience” as part of its inaugural 2015 Sunset Travel Awards.
This honor is a resounding affirmation of our mission to offer one of the wine industry’s most distinctive and immersive tour experiences.
According to the magazine, “Sunset... introduced the Sunset Travel Awards to honor excellence and innovation in the tourism industry across the 13 Western states, British Columbia, and Alberta. The awards recognize achievement in lodging, dining, cultural tourism, outdoor adventure, environmental stewardship, and other categories.”
The “Best Vineyard / Brewery Experience” category aims to honor “a Western brewery or winery experience that offers beer or wine lovers and novices an immersion into the brewer’s or winemaker’s arts that is both educational and fun and is underscored by an opportunity to sample excellent beers or wines at the completion.”
This is exactly the type of tour experience that we’ve been developing and honing for several years now. In fact, we now offer two distinct yet compatible immersion experiences at our estate Margarita Vineyard on the historic Santa Margarita Ranch.
First, we offer intimate guided vineyard and food pairing tours every Saturday starting at 11:30 a.m. at our tasting room in Santa Margarita. Our hospitality staff personally drives you out to Margarita Vineyard for an intimate look at growing wine from ground to glass. Afterward, you return to our private tasting room annex for a wine and food pairing experience.
We also offer zipline canopy tours through our affiliated Margarita Adventures, including the 1,800-foot Pinot Express zipline that soars over a block of Pinot Noir. The tours conclude with an optional wine tasting at the Ancient Peaks tasting room in the quaint town of Santa Margarita.
With both of these tours, our aim is to provide a uniquely memorable perspective on winegrowing, sustainability, geology, history and the surrounding wildlife.
We hope that you will join us on a tour soon to see and taste why we are a proud 2015 Sunset Travel Award finalist.