Now that Allegro is producing wine out of two facilities, and because our production is still increasing every year, Carl has gotten the chance to purchase new and bigger equipment. Yesterday we went over to the Stewartstown location so that he could check out installation of the new bottling line and check sugar levels on grapes.
A month ago I wrote a short blog post about this year's "Great Tank Swap," during which Carl is moving fermentation tanks for red wines to The Brogue and fermentation tanks for white wines to Stewartstown. That work continues. At Stewartstown I got to see these four huge tanks for white wines, as well as some of the smaller tanks destined for their future homecoming.
In the soon-to-be-bottling area of the winery, two impressive new purchases were gleaming. The first is a cross-flow filtration system, quite an advanced technology compared to the plate and frame filters he's used for years. The cross-flow system has only been used by wineries for about three decades. In one filtration, the wine becomes clarified and stabilized, without having to pass through (and possibly clog up) multiple filler sheets.
This new system will filter the wines much more quickly and easily, and was a necessary companion purchase to the real star: the new (to us--it's a 2001 model) 16-spout Gai bottling line.
The bottling line is a machine that accepts empty bottles in on the left, fills them, corks them, and applies and melts the capsules on. The wine bottles coming off the right side are ready to be put in cases. Allegro's machine at The Brogue is an 8-spout line, capable of bottling 15 bottles per minute. During the biggest bottling day ever at The Brogue, they bottled 440 cases of wine. With this new machine, Allegro's winery crew at Stewartstown should be able to bottle 50 bottles per minute, and as many as 800 cases on a regular bottling day.
I watched as Dwayne and Carl plugged in the bottling line and worked out some of its kinks in its new home.
During the bottling line's first few minutes coming to life, there was an accompanying smell that reminded me of our family's O-gauge trains, which we bring out to run at Christmas-time. I have to say that there was sort of an air of Christmas around these new machines. These guys have made do with the equipment that we have (thanks in large part to Dwayne's wide-ranging mechanical expertise), but I know that it's exciting for them to get a version of "Bigger. Better. Faster. More."
Cheers to expansion, new equipment, and the excitement of Christmas come early this year!