Missouri’s Own Mobile Bottling Operation
June 08, 2017
Old Woolam Custom Bottling is a fully automated bottling plant that drives right to a winery’s door. Missouri is home to 130+ wineries, ranging from very small operations to large-scale production, and everything in between. Purchasing and running a bottling line is pricey and Old Woolam gives wineries another option.
“I want to make the industry better, wineries better. When you open a good bottle of wine, everyone wins,” said Brent Baker, owner and operator of Old Woolam Custom Bottling. “I want to help improve the local wine industry by giving the smaller wineries the tools to properly and cost effectively bottle their wines.”
When wine goes into the bottle, it’s the culmination of months and sometimes years’ worth of work, and everything has to be just right. According to Brent, “From the bottler’s standpoint it’s all about the sanitation side of things. From the winery’s aspect, it’s about getting the wine into the bottle properly, which in most cases consists of having the wine properly filtered and completely stable, or what we would call ‘bottle ready’. There is a lot of planning that goes into getting wines ready to bottle.”
Brent steams all parts of the filler that the wine will touch at 212 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minuets to ensure a sterile environment for the wine, reaching sterility levels that are very difficult to reach with hand fillers. The automated process the mobile bottling line offers to wineries adds a great deal of care for the wine during the final bottling process. Automated bottle rinsing, sparging (adding nitrogen, an inert gas, to the bottle to limit oxygen) before and after filling, and vacuum corking all work together to reduce oxygen in the wine. Too much oxygen can ruin wine very quickly and irreversibly. Automation also gives the bottles a very consistent finish as it relates to fill level, as well as capsule and label application.
The mobile bottling line travels all over the state and region, providing a valuable service to local wineries and supporting the continued growth and quality of the area’s wine industry. An average day for Old Woolam Custom Bottling results in 600-1,000 cases of wine, but Brent has bottled as many as 1,600 cases in a day. “That makes for a very long day,” he says.
When asked what is the best part of operating a unique business like this, Brent exclaims, “The people I get to bottle for!” One of the best things about the Missouri wine industry is the people. You’ll find passion for the art of winemaking everywhere you go. Brent Baker, along with the rest of Missouri’s wine industry, know that some things are worth the work!