In the winter while the vines are dormant, the cellar is still bustling with activity. In early February, Hill Family Estate will be bottling three new vintages of our white and rosé wines:
2021 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc
2021 Rosé of Pinot Noir
These new vintages will be released after the wine spends about a month in bottle, and is tasted to ensure it is ready for consumption.
How Bottling Works
When it is time for bottling, the wine, which has been aging in oak or stainless-steel barrels, is transferred to a large stainless-steel tank. This process is called racking. At Hill Family Estate, the wine is racked into the tank using gas pressure with nitrogen, a gentle, non-aerated method to prevent over-oxidizing the wine during the process. Once in the tank, the wine goes through a fining process, which clarifies and stabilizes the wine. Following the fining process, the wine is filtered into a new tank. Once filtered, the wine is ready for bottling at one of the best wineries in Yountville.
The tank is connected to the bottling line by a large, pressurized hose. Prior to beginning, the bottling line is tested to ensure that the wine fill heights and label placements are correct and that the alcohol stabilized and at the correct temperature.
Once the bottling begins, bottles are emptied from 12-bottle case boxes onto the bottling line. Each bottle is sparged – the glass is filled with nitrogen, vacuumed and filled again. This removes any possible contaminants from the bottle. Then the bottle is filled with the wine, vacuumed and corked. If a screwcap is being applied (as is the case with this bottling of Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé of Pinot Noir and Albariño), the bottle is gassed with nitrogen after filling and closed with the screwcap.
The bottles are then capsuled (if closed with a cork) and move through the labeler, which applies the front and back label to each bottle. The bottles are pulled off the line, packed into 12-pack cases and palletized, to be transferred for storage until their release for some of the best wine tasting Yountville has to offer.
Hill Family Estate conducts bottling throughout the year, primarily in the winter, spring and summer. White and Rosé wines are bottled in the winter after 4-5 months of aging, while red wines will age from 10-22 months prior to bottling.