It takes a village.
I’m almost positive that is what Brent Baker of Old Woolam Custom Bottling thought as he and his massive mobile bottling trailer rolled into Stover, Missouri. This is the first time we have ever solicited the help of the self-proclaimed “Wine Bottling Gypsy” and we are fortunate that we found him. From Owensville, Mo, he travels from town to town, back roads and interstate to wineries all over Missouri and other surrounding states bottling wine from his state-of-the-art mobile bottling trailer. And it was a sight to behold.
We are thrilled, proud, happy, ecstatic (too many superlatives to list) that ALL of our wine produced in 2016 is bottled! Thanks to the Gypsy and more than a few generous friends and family members (cellar rats) we were able to get everything bottled on a beautiful day in May in just under 5 hours. In previous years, to put this in perspective, four of us could do about 8 cases per hour. Brent, the Wine Gypsy, can do 2 cases per minute. It was like watching mechanized wine magic unfold before our very eyes. Perhaps the quote of the day was from Chris who summed it up perfectly, “this is like Willy Wonka’s factory for adults!” We had visitors pop in from all over town throughout the day to see it firsthand and even had family from Kentucky to help and take in the spectacle. Brent said we broke a personal record for him and his process as a very special 92 year old was able to lend us some helping hands and became the oldest (wisest) bottler on his line. She had no trouble keeping up!
Speed is great, but for all you wine bottling assembly line junkies out there, you’d be happy to know the precision and sterility of this process is even better. The Gypsy uses steam, cartridge filters, and C02 in all the right ways and in all the right places leading to a cleaner, more quality product. We are just as thrilled about this as we were the efficiency. Basically, the line went like this:
Step 1: The entire bottling line is ran with steam to sanitize for 20 minutes before starting while the Gypsy gives marching orders to a group of wide-eyed volunteers (who were probably just hoping to drink a little wine and maybe move some bottles).
Step 2: Wine pumped from our barrels through the cartridge sterile filters, bottlers were rinsed and filled with filtered wine- shot of C02 on the top to help prevent oxidation- cork inserted- foil applied- label spun on- and around the wine-a-whirl to the other side for packaging. All in the manner of a few glorious seconds. Glorious.
Of course, the full Dale Hollow crew was present for the operation and it’s safe to say that a good time was had by all. Again, a huge thank you to Larry, Jeanette, and Chris who all helped make our bottling day a success.
To the Gypsy- we couldn’t be more pleased and it was a pleasure to meet you and work with you for a day as you helped us put the finishing touches on our craft. Remember the fine words of Tolkien that apply to travelers, as you are our new favorite wanderer!
“All that is gold does not glitter, not all who wander are lost”.