Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Whiskey Cow and the VA Wine Mafia

Even though Labor Day weekend was a while ago, I had to write about a few of the things Dan and I got to do over that weekend.

Bottling Gin
About 15 minutes outside of Leesburg lays Catoctin Creek Distillery. Catoctin Creek Distillery is a three-year old distillery in western Loudoun that makes organic whiskeys, gin, brandy, and a few other liquors. One thing that sets them apart is that they offer locals a chance to help with the bottling process! How cool is that?! I had heard about the bottling events from a co-worker, and he invited Dan and I and another co-worker to join him over the weekend.

The bottling event turned out to be even more interesting than I had expected. Not only did we get to participate in each step of the bottling process, we got to have the owner walk us through the entire procedure of creating liquor. It was quite fascinating, and I loved learning how they were a 0% waist facility!

The distiller

For those who are interested, the bottling process contained about 11 different positions. Here is a short breakdown of them: (Please note that some of these names are not the exact position names. I couldn’t remember them all. Lol)

  • Liquor can manager – hooks the whiskey cow up to a full can of liquor
  • Empty bottle runner – would give the person working the whiskey cow new boxes of empty bottles
  • Whiskey cow worker – Place bottles onto an automatic pourer (the whiskey cow) that fills the bottles perfectly. When the bottle is filled, they take them off and place them next to the corker.

  • Dan and I working the Whiskey Cow

  • Corker – places corks in the filled bottles
  • Capper – places a metallic cap on the bottle
  • Sealer – uses a HOT blowdryer-looking device to shrink the cap onto the bottle (sealing the bottle shut)

  • The table where the Corker, Capper, and Sealer work

  • Bottle runner – runs the filled and sealed bottles to the labelers
  • Labeler – places labels on the front and back of the bottle.

  • Me with my Bazinga! label

  • Bottle runner – runs the labeled bottles to the packer
  • Packer – checks for “floaters” in the bottles and packs the bottles into shipping boxes
  • Bottle runner – runs any bottles with “floaters” in it back to the Liquor can manager.

The coolest part of the bottling process is the whiskey cow, and the hardest part was corking the bottles (you have to have a lot of arm strength). Everyone has a lot of fun with the labeling part, because you get to write short phrases on the labels before they go onto the bottle. This makes each bottle a little unique. For example, I wrote “Bazinga” on one of the bottles, so hopefully, a Big Bang Theory fan will find it in the store and enjoy it. :) Dan and I wrote a label for just us, and we had the bottle set aside for to purchase later. :)

The work is done. Time to celebrate!

The whole event was really fun, and they saved the best part for last – the taste test. LOL Dan really liked the gin, and we both were fans of the rye whiskey. Naturally, we got a bottle of each to take home with us.

Catoctin Creek Distillery liquors

Wine and Lobster
In addition to bottling gin, Dan and I got to visit a few vineyards over the weekend. We stopped at North Gate Vineyard, because Dan had never tried their wine before. We enjoyed a glass of Cab Franc and split a cheese platter and picked up bottles of the Cab Franc and Apple wine to bring home with us.

Our next vineyard stop of the weekend was Loudoun Valley Vineyard. I have been able to enjoy some of Loudoun Valley’s wines at local restaurants like Fireworks, but this was my first visit to their property. Apart for wanting to see their grounds, we were also drawn to the lobster fest that was being held. :) Two sides and a big lobster for $20 – you can’t beat that! (I was very glad to learn about the lobster fest through Twitter and Facebook. It is a great way to keep up on local events now!) With our bellies full of delicious food, we picked up a bottle of Route 9 and the house white to share later.

Meeting the Wine Mafia
As I mentioned above, I have been involved more on Twitter and Facebook lately. I started using Twitter to help bring traffic to my blog and ended up following a lot of local people involved in events and wine. It was through these wine folks that I got introduced to the Virginia Wine Mafia bloggers group on Facebook, and I was very excited when they invited me to become a part of their group.

Over Labor Day weekend, Dan and I were invited to a small gathering of local wine bloggers from the Wine Mafia group. It was a fantastic evening! Everyone was very friendly and inviting, and Dan and I got to learn about and try a bunch of new VA wines. We even met someone who had been our pourer at Barrel Oak Winery. :)

Some of the wines we were sharing

One favorite point of the evening was the discussion that arose around Bob’s wines. The name of the actual winery is Crushed Cellars, but everyone from the party will remember it as Bob’s (the owner of the vineyard) from now on. We all split a bottle of Bob’s Vidal Blanc, which was quite delicious, and Dan and I added another winery to our “To Visit” list. LOL

You can read more about the wine gathering from Wine About Virginia – our hosts for the evening.

1 comment:

  1. So glad you had fun bottling! Do come back and see us again soon! --Scott