This is the crazy way most wineries bottle their new wines. And it involves a big rig.
What you notice when you first step onto the Mobile Wine Line is that it is loud.
There’s the whirr of the equipment that shuttles hundreds of bottles down the line, that drowns out conversations. There’s also the clink of glass hitting glass as a parade of bottles move through the line. There’s specific equipment that does everything having to do with bottling, from sterilizing bottles to corking to labeling.
It’s a cacophony of sounds, and the noise is all compounded by the fact that rather than the process of bottling taking place inside a cavernous warehouse, like one might expect, instead it’s all encased and processed inside — wait for it — the back of a big rig.
I’m on a field trip to Harney Lane Winery in Lodi, Calif., in late March to see how mobile wine bottling works. Harney works with Mobile Wine Line, which is one of the earliest mobile wine bottling companies, if not the first, in the state.
It’s a revelation to see the process in person, and when I step inside Mobile Wine Line’s big rig setup, I’m forced to confront what I had maybe thought took place during the wine bottling process. If you’ll forgive my pop culture-addled brain, I’m sure it was probably something along the lines of a romanticized, wine-version of the opening credits to “Laverne & Shirley,” where the main characters make faces as bottles of Shotz Beer zip by on the line.
Instead, the commonly known secret of wine country is that for those who don’t own a Shotz Brewery-level bottling system, the more reasonable alternative is mobile bottling by companies like Mobile Wine Line. First of all, those bottling lines? They’re expensive. Like, majorly expensive. As Kyle Lerner, owner of Harney Lane Winery describes it, to purchase a bottling line for their wine would cost, by his estimation, at least $750,000 to purchase, if not more.
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