Proprietor’s Blog 3/2 Bottle Shock

March 2, 2022

I cannot believe we’re only a few days away from bottling our 2021 Rosé and 2021 Sauvignon Blanc. These bottles are truly spectacular and I’m so excited for them to be out for all of you to enjoy.

As we get closer to bottling, it reminds me that, though the wines will be in bottle and ready to be shipped out soon, we still have to wait at least 4 weeks before we start shipping out bottles.

“If the wine is bottled, then why are you waiting?”

This question gets asked all the time, and I wanted to address an important and very natural process in the world of wine called “Bottle Shock.”

Bottle Shock happens to almost every wine and is very common.

Remember the last time you moved from one home to the next, one office to the next, or wherever you experienced significant change? How did that feel? When I was 14 years old, and we were moving from my childhood home to where our vineyards are now, I remember feeling excited and scared at the same time. I was not ready for change. And even if I was ready, it still took me some time to adjust to my new bed and my new home.

Just like how we take time to adjust to our new surroundings, so does wine. We forget that wine is constantly changing. It’s always evolving; from crush to fermentation to barrel aging to bottle aging, and even in the glass. Wine is ever changing.

One of our winemakers, Steve Lemley loves to tell me,

“When you put the wine in a bottle, it’s like a pissed off teenager. It’s not yet matured enough to be appreciated, so it lashes out.”

When the wine goes from tank or barrel into the bottle, it goes through a quick period called bottle shock. With AJA wines, we’ve found it’s about a 4 week period for our whites and rosés and about an 8 week period for our reds.

What Happens during Bottle Shock?

As the wine continues to adjust to its surroundings, it sometimes can taste off, change color (like Chateau Montelena Chardonnay in the 1776 Judgement of Paris), or frankly, just taste funky. It’s not because the wine is funky, but because it was used to a certain surrounding it and it’s not yet used to the bottle. After some time, the wine adjusts back to its normal flavors and aromas. I don’t know about you, but this makes me appreciate wine EVEN MORE! As the wine learns about its surroundings and realizes that it’s going to stay in this glass bottle, it begins to subside and learns to mature in the bottle.

So, when we bottle these wines, we taste them once every week just to see how they’re doing. How have these wines adjusted? How are these wines tasting now in bottle? Are they ready for YOU?

This is one of the many hands on activities we do at the winery. We’re small, family owned, and what we make is what you get. So I would NEVER put a wine out there that I can’t back myself. And if I do say so myself, I have a very particular palate.

I hope you have a wonderful Wine Wednesday and that you grab some of our fabulous bottles from our shop to enjoy this week.



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