By Henri, French Intern – This week, Doukénie Winery, one of Virginia’s award-winning wineries,  bottled three new Virginia wines: Chardonnay 2013, Vintner’s Reserve 2012 and Cabernet Sauvignon 2012. Virginia vineyard

The first step is to filter the wine from the barrels where they had been fermenting for one to two years. The wine should not be cloudy. With a pump, we emptied the barrels through a pad filter. The pad filter is made from a cellulose fiber. As the wine filters through, the pad keeps the biggest particles. There are two filtrations: the first time we filtrate, we use two kinds of cellulosic pad that are different sizes.  This process eliminates most of the big particles and the wine loses its cloudiness.

The second is a sterilization filtration. By the end, all the wine is filtered at 0.80µm. This means that these two filtrations eliminate particles like lactic bacteria, dead cells or yeast.

Next, the wine goes to a tank with a pipe. It stays there for one day, until the bottling begins. Now that the wine is in one place, we add sulfur SO2 to the wine. Sulfur has antiseptic and anti-oxidizing properties, providing  a repellent action on development microorganisms after bottling, preventing a too rapid combination of phenolic compounds with oxygen and finally avoids maderization of the wine.

Maderization is a transformation of the wine, which can occur naturally. After strong oxidation, the wine has changed color and taste. White wines become amber and red wines take on a brick color. Sulfur slows down the maderization and therefore keeps the wine drinkable bottling pump

The second step is to bottle the wine. A big truck comes directly to the winery equipped with a small bottling line. We brought the empty bottles, corks, capsules and labels. The wine is pumped through a pipe, from the tank to the truck.

Here is how a typical bottling process goes:

  • put empty washed bottles on the a conveyor belt
  • fill with wine, a little of CO2 is added before to drive the cork inside the bottle
  • the capsule(lead around the cork) and label is applied
  •  At the end of the conveyor belt, we pack the bottles into cases.
  • We close the case, stamp it with the name of the wine. After waiting five minutes for the cork to blow and completely destroy the bottle, we turn over the case and stack it on a palette.virginia bottling process
  • A palette holds 56 cases. The palettes go to the cold storage room.

This was very  satisfactory work because we were seeing the final product. Only it was hard at the end because a storm arrived and the cardboard boxes were getting wet and weak… like all the people who were bottling!

See you next week for more news of Doukénie Winery, a Virginia Winery! – Henri