The Bottling of Cabernet Franc

Empty bottles entering the mobile bottling truck
Empty bottles entering the mobile bottling truck

Just a few weeks ago on seemingly peaceful Thursday and Friday workdays at Hawk Haven, the winery was abuzz as the staff bottled a total of 14 varieties of wine. The bottling took place on a mobile bottling truck that was brought straight to our winery. As the empty bottles were loaded into the bottling line, along with the wine of course, staff was packaging the wine into cases which went onto palettes to be stored in the cellar for the next couple of months. However, before any of this could occur, the proper steps had to be taken to get from the barrel to the bottle.

At Hawk Haven, we use two different aging methods for our wine: French White Oak and stainless steel. Wine aged in our French White Oak includes all of our red wines, and few select white varietals including our Signature Series Reserve Chardonnay. The majority of our white wines are aged in stainless steel, so that all of the flavor and aroma can come from the grapes themselves. Wine aged in both stainless steel and French White Oak are pulled a month and a half before bottling to ensure enough time for proper blending and filtration.

The bottles, just after being filled, on their way to be labeled
The bottles, just after being filled, on their way to be labeled

The filtration process takes roughly two weeks and consists of multiple phases of filtering. While a panel of sommeliers at University of California Davis reached the conclusion that both filtered and unfiltered wine tastes the same after a month or so in the bottle, filtered wine is more stable in the bottle and potentially ages better. The first phase in filtration is the coarse filtering, which entails removing larger solids from the wine, like grapes husks and any remaining lees. The next phase is the polish stage, which removes most microbials that were able to get through the coarse stage. Using a special filter, we are able to perform the coarse and polish filtering simultaneously before moving onto the following stages. The third stage of filtration is the sterile phase, which catches any microbials in the wine left over from previous filtration, to ensure the wine will be at the highest possible quality. Sterile filtration must be done within seven days of bottling to be certain the wine is bottled before new microbials are able to grow.

A packed case ready to be cellared
A packed case ready to be cellared

The final stage, absolute filtration, is done during bottling when the bottles are filled with nitrogen (an inert gas which is heavier than oxygen) to ensure no oxygen is left in the bottles when they are filled with wine. This stage is very important to the quality of the wine, because oxygen left in the bottle can oxidize the wine, affecting the quality and taste, hence the importance of minimizing the amount of oxygen in the bottle during the bottling procedure.

2012 Signature Series Cabernet Fran, winner of the 2016 Governor's Cup and a gold medal.
2012 Signature Series Cabernet Fran, winner of the 2016 Governor’s Cup and a gold medal.

One wine we are particularly excited about is our 2014 Signature Series Cabernet Franc. Our 2012 vintage was submitted to the New Jersey Wine Competition where it won the Governor’s Cup, so we have great hopes for our newest vintage. As with previous vintages, our 2014 is 100% Cabernet Franc grapes and barrel aged for 18 months prior to bottling and has smooth plum, rich black currant, and baker’s chocolate. Cabernet Franc vines grow very well for us on the east coast because the climate and soil here are similar to that of Bordeaux, France. We hope you’re all as excited as us for the release of our new vintages, including our Cabernet Franc! Visit the Hawk Haven tasting room this weekend, July 16 & 17, when we will be offering a Premium Wine Tasting of these new releases.

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2014 Wines that were bottled:
*Syrah (Signature Series)
*Cabernet Franc (Signature Series)
*Cabernet Sauvignon (Signature Series)
*Tempranillo (Signature Series)
Quill
*Talon
*Cabernet Sauvignon

2015 Wines that were bottled:
*Reserve Chardonnay (Signature Series)
Naked Chardonnay
Riesling
Chardonnay
Abarino
Flying Press Rosé

*Released July 16 & 17!