Monday, October 19, 2009

Bottling Lucky 7: Rebel Red, West Side!

After approximately 11 months in a 15.5 gallon stainless steel keg, our seven-grape red wine blend was ready to bottle. Actually, it was ready in August, but we did it on October 17th because we had money to buy bottles and equipment!

We invited our good friend Brie to help with the process: hand bottling six and a half cases.

Here's our bottling apparatus:

The keg of Lucky 7: Rebel Red!

Two saw horses and a wood plank from winemaker and good friend Kevin.

Two sets of firm tubes that go inside the keg.

Two sets of connected soft tubes to extend outside the keg.

And two sets of connected firm tubes with valve tips for starting and stopping the flow of wine into the bottle.

You can see in the photo what a classy operation we had going!

Ron was able to get a successful siphon going on each of the tubes after a couple of attempts.

Generally speaking, everything went really well.

We had a good rhythm going between two of us bottling and the other corking.

Here's another angle on the operation. If you look closely, you can see the valve tube extending into the bottle I'm filling.

Oops! Is that a wine glass in the photo?

A neighbor must have left that!

Actually, we all sampled the wine throughout the extensive bottling time:
1 hour, 10 minutes!

We realized we had made a good decision to go with hand bottling.

Not only was the process cheaper than renting bottling machines and pumps, clean-up was a breeze!

We ended up with 65 bottles of wine!

Here's a shot of the first case, bottled and corked.

I printed a few labels that I had designed over the last few months using Adobe PhotoShop.

Ron came up with the idea of black die with white dots, and the single shade in background.

I like how it looks slick and glossy with a hint of 1950s casino style!

At the last minute, I tweaked the story to include the concept that we ended up with two kegs of Lucky 7: Rebel Red.

Kevin and Maryella have one keg stored at a friend's vineyard in a temperature controlled barrel room. That's the East Side barrel.

Ours was stored in our garage and in the corner of our living room, wrapped in a sleeping bag. That's the West Side barrel.

I wanted to distinguish the East Side from West Side lots, since the wines have been subject to radically different treatment, almost since entering the individual kegs.

They "topped up" their wine with everything from Two Buck Chuck to some very expensive and delicious Syrah from their friend's vineyard, Red Soles.

We used a three-grape red blend that I actually enjoy, from Trader Joe's, $4.99 a bottle.

Also, the amount of time their wine was "on the oak" differed greatly, as well as the use of the "respirator."

Additionally, aside from the first "racking" of each keg, we added the necessary sulfites (Potassium Meta-Bisulfate) at widely varying times.

It will be exciting to taste the two, side by side, once they're ready!

Look for that post in 6 - 12 months, ahhhhhhh! I can hardly wait.

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