Definitions

estate bottling

Bottling line

Bottling lines are production lines that fill a product, generally a beverage, into bottles on a large scale.

In the wine industry, this typically involves drawing wine from a holding tank and filling it into bottles in a filling machine (filler), which are then corked, encapsuled, labeled and packed into cases or cartons. Before the advent of mobile, truck-mounted bottling lines, the capital investment was considerable. A mobile bottling line can be rented for any period of time, and makes it easy for even the smallest wineries to perform estate bottling (also known as chateau bottling). Many smaller wineries however, continue to send their bulk wine to large facilities for contract bottling.

Wine bottling process

The first step in bottling wine is depalletising, where the empty wine bottles are removed from the original pallet packaging delivered from the manufacturer, so that individual bottles may be handled. The bottles may then be rinsed with filtered water or air, and may have carbon dioxide injected into them in attempt to reduce the level of oxygen within the bottle. The bottle then enters a filler which fills the bottle with wine and may also inject a small amount of inert gas (CO2 or nitrogen) on top of the wine to disperse oxygen. The bottle then travels to a corking machine (corker) where a cork is compressed and pushed into the neck of the bottle. Whilst this is happening the corker vacuums the air out of the bottle to form a negative pressure headspace. This removes any oxygen from the headspace, which is useful as O2 can ruin the quality of the product by oxidation. A negative pressure headspace will also counteract pressure caused by the thermal expansion of the wine, preventing the cork from being forced from the bottle. Some bottling lines incorporate a fill height detector which reject under or over-filled bottles, and also a metal detector.

After filling and corking, a plastic or tin capsule is applied to the neck of the bottle in a capsular. Next the bottle enters a labelling machine (labeller) where a label is applied. To ensure traceability of the product, a lot number, generally the date and time of bottling, may also be printed on the bottle. The product is then packed into boxes and warehoused, ready for sale.

Further reading

  • Brody, A. L., and Marsh, K, S., "Encyclopedia of Packaging Technology", John Wiley & Sons, 1997, ISBN 0-471-06397-5

External links

  • Package Machinery Manufacturers Institute
  • Institute of Packaging Professionals

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