This past Thursday and Friday were bottling days at AmByth Estate. It was a momentous time for us, as we’ve owned our bottling line for 2 years, but have actually never used it AT AmByth Estate. Now that our winery building is completed, we were able to move the bottling line home and get to work! We racked the wine and bottled it on Fruit days, according to the Biodynamic calendar. We are very proud to own our bottling line, we believe it is another way we can insure the complete integrity of our product, and it enables us not to be reliant on anyone else (the 18 wheeler bottling line that visits most wineries), and the problems that comes with that.

If you look above the bottling line, you can see in the photos a barrel hanging from the forklift, or a tank suspended over the bottling line…this is our method of using gravity instead of pumps. Using gravity is more gentle on the wine, in particular, at this stage of its life.

We bottled our 2007 reds: a Grenache blend, a Mourvedre blend, a Tempranillo/Sangiovese blend, and a non-estate (but made by Phillip) Nebbiolo. These 07’s will be released in March over Zinfandel Festival Weekend, and will be sent out to our wine club members (they will also receive an 07 Viognier, and an 07 Grenache (no sulfites added). Thanks to all of our volunteers: Dennis Ball (AKA #1 Picker), Neil and Nick Sowerby, Terri Hamman, Sherman & Laurie Smoot.

Speaking of the Smoot’s…we ran out of corks while bottling (Phillip decided to do extra bottling)! Thankfully, this wine business promotes good friendships and we were able to give Sherman a call and ask for about 600 corks!! So those of you lucky enough to get a bottle of AmByth Estate wine, corked with Bella Luna Winery corks, give a toast to Sherm and Kevin, a toast to good friends, and a nod to helping someone you know when they’re in a pinch.

Our bee boxes are assembled (thanks to the rainy days, giving us an excuse to stay inside to put hammer in hand!). I ordered the hive boxes from Mann Lake, upon a recommendation from Susan King, my beekeeping mentor. You have the option to order pre-assembled, or unassembled for about a third of the cost less–so we chose to order the unassembled boxes. It was extremely easy to put them together, and quite satisfactory to watch them take shape. This weekend we are hoping to get them painted and ready for the April arrival of the 10,000 bees who are coming!

Last week brought some glorious rain storms, bringing the total rain amount to a little over 6″ for the winter. We are still looking for a minimum of 6″ more of rain, but as Phillip just said, “14 inches would be great!” Rain is important to us–we are completely dry farmed (this means no irrigation) and the winter rains is what will sustain the vines through our extremely hot and dry summers.