Wine Bottling: Barbera!

You may recall that our annual wine bottling (October 2017) was canceled due to the fires in Sonoma County.  The bottling was rescheduled for President’s Day weekend 2018.  In 2016 we missed the annual bottling due to our sabbatical trip to Europe, so we were excited to get back to all things wine.  This is the 6th annual bottling; so far we have bottled 4 Malbecs, a red blend (our sabbatical year) and now this year a new varietal for us, Barbera.

We arrived in Sonoma County on Wednesday night and spent 2 days wine tasting and visiting with friends which included Clark from Sausalito and Todd and Susan, our hosts in Cloverdale.  We have been very fortunate to stay in the same “little house” that Todd and Susan have each of the past 3 years.  The wine event began on Saturday with blending.  Keep in mind that 100% anything, varietal wise, is not strictly 100%.  There is usually 5-20% of other varietals blended in to make a complete wine ie nose, front end, back end and  after you say “ah”.  In this case, we ended up blending in roughly equal percentages of Petit Verdot, Cab Franc and Carignan.  The total blend came to 80% Barbera and 20% other (listed above).  We blended out on the crush pad with each member of the team waxing  eloquently about each blend that we tested.  First pic is of me and Mike, our fearless leader who started the Cache Valley Reserve team along with Jim Rickards of Rickards Winery.


Here is Jim Rickards measuring out each blend at the table.


And of course, folks testing out each blend.


Our very dear friends from Mountain Green, Utah were able to get in on the action this year:  Go Brett and Teri!


Bottling the final blend takes place on Sunday morning.  This is old school assembly line work.  Steps:  suck out the oxygen from the bottles, fill the bottles from the barrel, cork and wrap the top, clean and place label on straight (mostly) and finally into the cases they go.  One large barrel equals about 30 cases of wine.  Each member of the team takes home about 3 cases.  Of course there is overflow from the filling tube, which is drained into pitchers.  Even at 10am, one has to make sure quality is maintained, hence the wine glasses!




Brett and Teri posing with their bounty of 3 cases!


Jim Rickards looking on approvingly!

We have never been to Sonoma in the winter, only spring and fall.  We noticed flowers between all of the rows of vines.  Turns out that Mustard grows in abundance this time of year.  But they also plant many varieties of ground cover which is mulched in to the soil in the spring.  This adds much needed nutrients to an otherwise mono-culture crop.




More flowers found in Healdsburg.  Poppies and Daffodils anyone?



Flowering (non fruit bearing) plum trees along the driveway at Rickards Winery.


That vine you see on the right dates back to 1908, truly “old vine”!

So there you have it.  Wine bottling in Sonoma Valley, California.  This has turned out to be one of our favorite destinations and I am sure we will be back again and again.  Bottoms up!



Author: euro916

I am a college professor in the music department of Utah State University. I will start my sabbatical on May 1, 2016 and plan to document the year's experiences in this blog. The sabbatical consists of musical endeavors in Europe/UK for 3 months, and half a semester as guest artist in a couple of California universities. Thanks for following!

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