David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

Weeks 48 - 49
November 28, 2004 to December 11, 2004 

  Tuesday November 30, 2004

We are bottling tomorrow!!!

Steve told me the other day that we could not bottle our 2004 Late Harvest Sauv Blanc, because we did not have the right *Star*. I said " What are you talking about?". Steve and I have known each other for 13 years and he has been a vital part of this winery for 7 years. We know each other very well, but sometimes he is ahead of me. Steve informed me that a *Star* is what moves a bottle to the next location. We have all seen a mechanized line! In all industries we have to move our product to the next place. I learned this *Star* had  star like shape, with indentations at the right locations (every bottle). This wheel as I would describe it, rotates in order to distribute the bottle to an exact location to either fill our bottle or put a screwcap on our finished wine. As I have described, the *Star* is designed to adequately distribute to the right fill level or seal well. I say adequate, and not exact, because if the fill level is not perfect, the wine will still be fine and it is hard to not get a good seal. A good screwcaped bottle is obvious. The seal is firm and solid.

The only half bottle or 375ml bottle available in screwcap is a burgundy bottle. As most of you have noticed I have only used claret ( no taper, straight up bottles, easier to store). I despise burgundy bottles, but I have no choice and of course, half bottles should be no problem to store, since they are small. So when Steve said we did not have the right *Star*, I asked him where we could get what we needed? After a few phone calls on Tuesday and then Wednesday just before Thanksgiving I was told White Hall Lane may have what we needed.

Steve took off yesterday morning to drive to White Hall Lane Winery. He brought back a *Star* to borrow that we were told would work for our bottling line. It did not work. We were told it was the right size, but it was not. Steve stopped off at Home Depot to look around. He came up with some spacers as he would call them. I would call them foam rubber with stickum on one side. Steve placed these rubber spacers at the right place (in our *Star* used for our 750ml claret bottles) so we can now bottle. These *Stars* cost $1,000 as a part, so I told Steve he should go into selling.

Saturday December 4, 2004

On Wednesday we successfully bottled 100 cases of our 2004 Late Harvest Sauv Blanc. I have made up laser labels and started selling them today for $18. I have ordered color labels and they should arrive sometime in January. In the mean time if anyone is interested in buying bottles with the temporary laser labels, let me know. Futures can be bought for $17 a half bottle and will be shipped after the new labels come. After the labels have been put on the bottles, the price will go to $20.

On the 14th of December we will start blending out 2004 wines. Next week I will give more details.

I forgot to inform that Brendan did not receive grapes from Ken Wilson, so our winery has remained clean.

Thursday December 9, 2004

I have sold our bottling line with the filler, corker and labeler. I still have the screwcap machine to sell, but new units are backlogged so I will have no trouble selling it. I have decided to buy a new line that will bottle more than 50% faster. Yes it will only handle screwcaps, so in July we will bottle all our 2004 wines with screwcaps. I am very happy with the quality of our screwcaped 2003 wines and I am convinced I am making the right move. I have already ordered the screwcap capsules with our logo on them. 

The cost of our new line will be $100,000. Our old line cost about $100,000 also. I should receive over $60,000 total for my used equipment, so for $40,000 I will be able bottle much faster. As I have said in the past, by buying the first bottling line in 1999, my additional cost over having a mobile bottler was only 20 cents a bottle for 5 years. Now that I have received money back for the first line, in actuality there has been no additional cost. I just don't understand why wineries of my size do not buy their own line. The quality is better and you have so much more control. 

The $40,000 additional for the new line will increase our costs somewhat. Also with the problems with our dollar almost everything we buy has gone up in price. On the 16th of December our prices on our 2004 Futures will go up by one dollar a bottle, but we will hold our prices on our 2002 and 2003 bottled wines. 

` Dave 

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