Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wine Appreciation: Bottling at Sierra Knolls

Last Saturday, CC & I joined another couple and traveled to Sierra Knolls Winery to help bottle 100-120 cases of their 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Sierra Knolls is a small family-owned and operated vineyard and winery located in the Sierra Foothills, between Auburn and Grass Valley, 20 minutes off of Hwy 49.

The owners at Sierra Knolls are Steve & Brenda Taylor and John & Linda Chase. They are long time friends and wine lovers. John is the main winemaker.

Sierra Knolls wines are aged in French & American oak barrels in their 50 foot barrel cave. They are environmentally conscientious and solar powered.

After spending the day on the production line, I can report that winemaking on a smaller scale is definitely a labor of love.

CC & I started our day gluing boxes together, then I moved to foiling the bottles, while he wiped down bottles, then my last job (where I spent the most time, trying to give my arms a workout) was wiping down bottles, and CC moved to the labeling machine. It was tedious work, but fun working with others and talking about wine, work, running, restaurants, work, wine, running, and even this web site!

So here is how the production line went (get ready for some awesome ACTION shots *kidding*!!):

Here is the bottle filling station, 6 bottles at a time, then passed down to the corking machine.

The bottles are then corked one by one. Then passed down to be wiped free of any spots from filling them up.

This was the bottle wiping station. Hooray for micro-fiber towels! They made the polishing task much easier.

After the bottles are wiped down, they are passed again, one by one to the bottle labeler. I have attached quite a few labels by hand in the past at Frasinetti, so I was impressed by this automatic labeler! :)

The bottles are then passed to be foiled at the top and then sealed. Again, one at a time.

And here is the final product. We did about 100 cases (nearly 1,200 bottles that day).

There was no shortage of quality control during the bottling (if you know what I mean *wink, wink*). Every bottle of Sierra Knolls Cabernet gets my personal stamp of approval! ;)

After bottling, the whole crew was treated to a salad (YAY), chili and cornbread dinner, and we were given a bottle each to take home. CC & I will be laying ours down for at least 6 months (if we can wait that long).

If you would like to come out and taste the wines of Sierra Knolls, call them at (530) 268-9225 and schedule a tasting.

You can also follow them on twitter here, or friend them on facebook here.

Finally, they will be at the March 6th Foothills Celebration. Taste their wines as well as wines and food from all of these venues!

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