First, Mom helped to set up the barrel so that we could get the wine out of the barrel and into a stainless steel tank (on the right of the above picture). I helped by taking pictures of the process.
As the wine flowed into the metal container, Dad added some things to help make the wine more drinkable right away (since we were bottling the wine just a couple of weeks before the wedding).
Now, we were ready to really start bottling! We had to get the empty bottles out of the cases, set them up on the conveyor belt where they would get washed, filled, corked and then sent on their way to the end of the belt where we packed them back into the cases. We skipped the labeling and sealing steps because we were going to do that by hand at home later on.
Our empty wine bottles.
We sent through a test run of bottles to make sure that everything was working correctly with the bottling machinery (much better to figure out if something is wrong after 6 bottles than after you've bottled the whole barrel!).
We poured the wine back into buckets (don't worry, everything was incredibly clean, so we could pour this back with the rest of the wine and bottle it again).
Then we tried the wine, proclaimed it excellent and the machinery ready to go! I continued to help by taking pictures. And trying the wine! Of course we still had to wash the bottles that we sent through on the test run, and then run them through again in order to make sure that the height of the filled bottles was the correct height for corking the bottles. But THEN it was really time to bottle all of the wine.
Mom and Dad EB put the empty bottles onto the conveyor belt.
The bottles went through the machine where they were filled and corked,
and then they came out the other side where we packed them back into their boxes.
And look - I helped by doing more than just taking pictures here!
This is a good overview of the whole process in action. Dad EB is putting the empty wine bottles onto the conveyor belt on the left, and our friends at the winery were collecting the filled bottles at the end of the line and packing them into the cases (that's where I was helping when I wasn't taking pictures).
We added labels to several of the finished bottles so that we could give them to everyone at the winery who had helped us so much through the whole process. I came up with the original design for this label, but another of my Dad's friends finalized it and made it look much more professional than anything I could have come up with!
Finally we loaded up 24 cases of wine in the Escape!
I was pretty amazed at how quickly the process ended up going. We were in and out in just a couple of hours, and then on our way back home with our wedding wine, ready to seal and label our wedding wine!