It seemed every minute of my weekend was slotted for something harvest/school related or I was sleeping – which I don’t think I actually did enough of. It was a good weekend and I am glad for each of the opportunities. Entwine, the WWCC scholarship fundraiser for Culinary and Enology/Viticulture students, passed successfully Saturday night. and I got some studying in on Sunday morning.
Both ends of the weekend were spent at one of the small wineries I help at. Saturday I was the foil capsule person on the bottling line. It was my first automated bottling line experience; chilly, but very interesting. I have cursed the foil wrapper when it has sliced my finger or been troublesome to remove, but I have a newfound respect for them after my hours on the bottling line. By the way, that was my first assembly line experience and I am very glad I don’t have to do that everyday as my back and neck were achy after only a couple of hours despite the nice cushiony mats beneath my feet.
These fragile foil bottle top wrappers come in many colors, matt or glossy, sometimes printed on. I began my day with matt black and progressed to glossy red. The sleeve of about forty capsules has a small split cylinder in the bottom capsule to maintain the shape of foil. I was told they required a light touch and that is no exaggeration! Shipping and handling of the sleeves or the boxes of sleeves can wreak havoc on them and make them more difficult to separate which was my very first experiences with the matt black – but I did manage to keep up, stopping the line only momentarily on the first four or so sleeves to catch the few bottles that would have by-passed me while I reached for the new sleeve. Oh, and the bottles cannot go through the wrapping machine without a capsule as the glass will cut the machine up. Another conundrum in the wine world. (Remember the ‘harvest all the clusters, but we don’t want the bird eaten or secondary clusters, nor do we want any leaves’ directions when I first harvested in early September?)
I also had to watch for bottles without corks and I missed one very early on, but caught all of the bottles when we ran out of corks later in the morning. In fact, it was probably the one and only job I have had where my left-handedness was of benefit since I could stand facing the direction the bottles came from and get the capsules on the bottles before they went passed me. This meant that when I had to reach for another sleeve I could still catch the bottles before they left my little space for the wrapping of the capsule. With each sleeve I developed a more refined technique for ensuring capsules that were functional out of the box made it onto the bottles. I think I lost about five, maybe six capsules during the whole bottling process. Two and a half pallets of bottles later, that wasn’t a bad beginners average.
Sunday night I helped press a small bin of muscat grapes. The clean-up took twice as long as the pressing did. Due to the lack of light, we decided to start early this morning to press the Barbera that was ready to go. We got through the first two large bins, nearly two tons of fruit, before I had to get to class. Tomorrow morning we will be pressing Syrah at another small winery.
Our Viognier is slowing its fermentation a bit. It smells fantastic! The four bins of Merlot are doing well, but it is difficult to get the skins to break with the punchdowns, so we have resorted to ‘stirring’ them with a paint stirrer (the kind that attaches to your drill) as we want the colors and tannins.
Now I have to get back to studying so I can be ready for the Soils exam this Friday!