It’s All Over But the Shouting – and the Bottling

By this time in the year the traditional harvest is done, even when it runs late. The grapes have been stomped and the fermentation is in full swing. The leaves on the vines are starting to turn gold and brown, a great time to go out and snip some vines for grape vine wreathes. The only thing left now is the bottling.

Several years ago, owner and winemaker Colleen Bannerman used a manual corking machine to seal her blueberry wine bottles at Bannerman Vineyard, Burgaw, North Carolina.

For small vineyard owners and winemakers this can be some of the most labor-intensive work in all of winemaking. A few very small wineries still hand wash and sterilize their bottles and use a hand bottling system. This means you might get a few dozen bottles finished per day. Bottling by machine has various levels of efficiency and speed, which might get you to into the 100s per day. Friends, family, and neighbors are often lured in with the promise of payment in wine.

A neighbor volunteer uses a hand labeling machine to affix labels to bottles at Bluefield Estate Winery in Gainesville, Florida.   

It’s one of those things we wine guzzlers, uh connoisseurs, don’t think about when we pull that cork out of a new bottle. Somebody had to push it in there in the first place. Somebody put the wine in the bottle, and somebody wrapped that foil over the top.

An employee works at a commercial bottling machine at Lakeridge Winery in Clermont, Florida.
Another style of automatic bottling machine is used at Island Grove Winery in Hawthorne, Florida.

If you get a chance to be part of a bottling party, it’s an experience you don’t want to miss. It can be hard work, but the reward is so worth it.

Volunteers bottle, cork, and label wine at a bottling party at Bluefield Estate Winery, Gainesville, Florida.

Happy Wine Trails!

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