2014 Bottling

It was finally time to bottle the 2014's. The final tally was 21 gallons of Cabernet Franc and 17 gallons of Merlot. I planned on doing 12 gallons of a 50/50 blend and then bottle the remaining as straight varietals. I brought the free SO2 up to 40 ppm (since bottling always consumes about 10 ppm). I utilized natural Grade 3 corks from morewinemaking.com and got my Enolmatic cleaned and made minor adjustments on the fill level.

The bottling started out well. I first did the 12 gallons of the blend. This translates to 60 bottles and I was done in about 30 minutes. I next moved on to the straight Cabernet Franc. At 9 gallons (well, one of gallon jugs had a lot of sludge in it, so it really ended up being 8.5 gallons. This took about 30 minutes as well, since I was being kind of slow. Since the Enolmatic has a vacuum control, I set it to precisely the time I need to cork the last bottle and grab a new one. I have everything set up in a triangle in order to minimize my movement. The best part about all of this is that it is a 1 person job. If I had a ton of bottling (like 100 gallons), I might invite others, but a couple hours of bottling isn't bad and I don't have to worry about running into other people. The final step was the straight Merlot. At only 5 gallons, it only took about 15 minutes. In all, I ended up with 180 750 mL bottles and 4 magnums. It was then time to clean the carboys. Since this was the final "racking" there was little sludge in any of the vessels. They only required a quick rinse with water and another rinse with sanitizer and they were done. This freed up all of my carboys for my 2015 wine, which I was about to press.

2015 labels optimized

Racking the 2014's

       I was a little late racking the 2014’s for the first time.  I had been busy doing other things so it had been roughly 2.5 months since I had originally sulfited and racked the Rhode Island Cabernet Franc and Merlot.  I had all the new supplies to perform the SO2 test and a full day to do the racking, so I was ready.  The Cabernet Franc came it at 20 ppm, which, while on the low side, was fine.  It had dropped roughly 15 ppm over the course of the 2.5 months.  The Merlot, however, had fallen to 12 ppm, which was way too low.  I sulfited everything back to 35 ppm and racked.  One of the benefits of waiting this long for the racking was that the lees were extremely compact.  During the racking, I only lost about ½ gallon (pretty good since it was all coming from 5 to 6 gallon carboys).  This meant I picked up hardly anything on the racking either.  When I looked at the new containers, there is nothing in the bottom of them, so I’d consider that a success.  In the future, I will sulfite the first month after MLF without racking, so as to give the lees time to compact.  It’s better than wasting wine when racking.