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Bottling takes one long day and a minimum of four people, preferably five. The first stage is washing and sterlising the bottles. For our first year we had the help of Marsha, a friend of Rob's from Bristol University and she was put on bottle duty.

Our "bottling line" as such takes the wine from the tank, through a pump and then through a sterile filter into the header tank of the two head manual bottler, with Rob at the controls.

The next stage is corking which I got to do on account of my overdeveloped right arm as a result of working the manual crusher/destemmer. The corker works fine if you "take it by surprise". If you try and do it slowly the cork doesn't go in properly.

The final activity is capping. This involves putting on the plastic caps and applying heat to make them shrink to the bottle. Now you could buy a gadget to do this for around £150 but being a Scot I set the wife to work with a Bosch Paint Stripper gun instead!

So why do we need a fifth person? The answer is that we need someone to move bottles around through the process and help if any parts of the process are becoming a bottleneck.

Once we are done all that is required is to count the final number we have bottled!

    © McLeod 2007