Mobile Bottlers Pop Up in Midwest

New wine-bottling services offered in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin

by Linda Jones McKee
precision mobile bottling
Precision Wine Bottling of Trempealeau, Wis., is one of a handful of mobile wine bottlers to begin offering services to Midwestern wineries in the past few years.
Hartington, Neb.—One sure sign that a wine region is growing is the simultaneous increase in mobile bottling lines servicing that region. Three years ago Tim and Dave Nissen, owners of 850-case Nissen Winery, started the first mobile line based in Nebraska after investigating what it would cost to purchase a bottling line just for their small-production winery (see “Mobile Bottling comes to Midwest” from Feb. 12, 2009.) The Nissens’ territory includes parts of Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota. However, the upper Midwest is a large area, and there are many small wineries with a need for bottling services.

Today, two more mobile bottlers are providing this service to the region’s wineries. Precision Wine Bottling is based in Trempealeau, Wis., and Old Woolam Custom Bottlers is located in Owensville, Mo.

Todd Roessler started Precision Wine Bottling in early 2011 to service wineries in his home state of Wisconsin as well as Iowa, Minnesota and northern Illinois. Similar to the Nissen brothers, Roessler decided to get into mobile bottling to meet the needs of his own small winery, Elmaro Vineyard. He, his wife Laura and mother-in-law Lynita Delaney initially planted 8.5 acres of wine and table grapes in 2006; they celebrated the grand opening of their winery in November 2011.

In preparation for launching the mobile bottling line, Roessler had a trailer specially constructed to house a Costral 2000 NG bottling line. The bottling line has 11 spouts and is capable of filling 2,200 bottles per hour; his labeler can handle 1,200 bottles per hour. Roessler charges a $200 non-refundable deposit, a transportation fee of $1 per mile and $3 per case for bottling 1,000 gallons or less. The charge per case drops to $2.75 per case for runs of 1,000 gallons or more.

He requires that wine be filtered and bottle-ready prior to bottling. At the time of bottling, the wine is filtered through a 1-micron canister filter and a .45-micron canister filter. Each winery must have a single-phase 240/100 amp electrical service with a four-pin connector.

The newest entry into mobile bottling lines in the Midwest is Old Woolam Custom Bottlers, which started to provide services Jan. 1 for wineries in Missouri, southern Iowa, eastern Kansas, central and southern Illinois and northern Arkansas. According to owner Brent Baker, there are at least 200 wineries within a 300-mile radius of his base in Missouri, which is less than 85 miles west of St. Louis.

After considerable research into mobile bottling models in the United States and abroad, Baker outfitted a 32-foot enclosed gooseneck trailer with a FIMER RTS 9/1 bottling line. Equipped with nine spouts, the line is capable of filling 1,500 bottles per hour, although Baker reports that the average is usually closer to 1,200 bottles per hour. Both cork and screwcap finishing is available. The trailer offers a clean environment for bottling and has two air conditioning units for temperature control.

Old Woolam Custom Bottlers fees include a deposit of $200 for securing the bottling date, a minimum daily charge of $700 and a transportation fee of $1 per mile. For bottling of less than 1,000 gallons that include filling, closure application, capsule and labeling, the cost is $3 per case. For similar bottlings of more than 1,000 gallons, the cost drops to $2.75. Wine must be pre-filtered and ready to bottle at a minimum bottling line temperature of 60°F.

Baker told Wines & Vines that there is a real need for bottling services because “a lot of people have been hand-filling and are used to working in small batches. I prefer to do a 500-gallon minimum, and like to do 1,500-1,700 gallons per day.”

For more information, contact Precision Wine Bottling at precisionwinebottling.com or at (608) 534-6456. Reach Old Woolam Custom Bottling at oldwoolamcustombottling.com and Nissen Wine Bottling at nissenwine.com.

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