A personal perpsective of life in our Virginia vineyard... Christine Wells Vrooman



Bottled Wine!

It seemed the day would never come, the day we actually put into bottles the wine from the grapes we so lovingly raised.  But that day did come and it arrived full of sun.  May 5, 2011.  Perfectly perfect!

Here is how a bottling day at a winery goes!  The long tractor-trailer housing the bottling assembly line arrived at the Stinson's winery early in the morning and it took them a couple of hours before everything was lined up and ready to roll.  We were bottlling not only our wines, our Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but some of the Stinson's wines as well.  We will label our bottles ourselves later this summer, but we had the corks ready to go!

The wines inside the tanks in the winery are pumped through a long hose into the bottling truck as the bottles move through a multitude of stages and stops, all the glass clinging and clanking in a rhythical dance, right side-up, upside down, rubbing shoulders, movin' on down the line.  What a show. After moving down one line, they circle at the front of the truck and march on out to be quickly dropped into boxes, rolled down the conveyor, stamped, box labeled, sealed and ready to head into your homes!

Rolling out the hose

Rachel Stinson clamping together sections of hose; the guys teasing her about handcuffs:)

Command Central 

Setting it all up

Bottles getting filled with our Chardonnay 

After completing the circuit, out the other end they march!

And down the conveyor the cases will slide

to be stamped, sealed and crated away!

Nathan hauling the filled cases

And when the bottling is complete, time to clean out the tanks!  Rachel Stinson and Nathan climb into the tanks and begin scrubbing them down with disinfectants and cleaners.  Cleanliness is one of the most important factors in a winery to prevent a variety of off-flavors that can develop due to contaminants.

It is recommended to wait several weeks before drinking wine after it's been bottled, as it has to recover from "bottle shock", a reaction to the wine from the act of bottling, leaving the wine with muted or disjointed fruit flavors. Well, we just could not wait several weeks to taste at least one of our wines. So we figured the Chardonnay would be affected least by the bottling. That evening we chilled it, pulled out the cork, studied the color, aroma, held it up to the light, swirled it, sniffed once more... and took our very first sip. Siiipppp. siippppp. We were silent. Our eyes lit up. Someone mumbled, Wow.. or something like that. It all seems a blur. Our Chardonnay is delicious. The flavors lingered and lingered, the fruity minerality was soft, elegant. Haunting. Beautiful.

Thank you, thank you, little grapes. You are making us proud, so very proud indeed!  I remember how beautiful you looked dangling from your vine and you have transformed that beauty into something equally beautiful in a glass.

For the Pinot, we will wait a few weeks for the bottle shock to dissipate.  We will taste it near the end of May with our winemaker consultant, Matthieu Finot and our viticulture consultant, Lucie Morton, two amazing individuals with whom we feel honored to be working. 
I cannot wait!... But I will!

Our very first bottle of wine from our very first vintage
Ankida Ridge Chardonnay 2010
Harvested Sept 1, 2010
Bottled May 5, 2011

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