Bottling day at Port of Leonardtown

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The bottles clinked on the assembly line, taking turns being cleaned, filled, corked or capped, labeled and boxed on a conveyor that stretch throughout a converted trailer that rivaled an 18-wheeler. Inside the crisp climate was a series of volunteers eager to complete a journey that began last spring as a dream.

It was bottling day at Port of Leonardtown.

“It’s definitely exciting,” said POL winemaker Lauren Zimmerman. “We’ve worked hard on these wines. It’s like sending your kids off to university. We’re very proud of these wines. I think there will be some gold medal winners from the bunch.”

Some 15,000 bottles of white wine and rosé were filled on April 18. Another 15,000 bottles of red wine will follow in June. The Vidalacalo and rosé won’t last long after club members get first chance to buy them. After all, they know Zimmerman takes special pride to produce the wines. Maybe it’s an art, but after 14 years as a winemaker in Canada, New Zealand and the U.S, she has it down to a science.

“The grapes [were] put in last fall – fermented, filtered, blended and tweaked the sugars,” she said. “We only pick the good stuff.”

Too bad Zimmerman’s fifth vintage at Port of Leonardtown remains a few months away from reaching your glass.

“The wine goes through bottle shock from all the rigorous filtering, bottling and oxidizing so we have the bottle relax for a few months,” she said. “We never release a wine that’s newly bottled.”

Meanwhile, Zimmerman is working on next year’s wine.

“We’re already pruning,” she said. “The bud break is happening. I’ll be in the vineyard full time after we’re done bottling.”

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