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ROCHEPORT — A bottle of Les Bourgeois premium Norton is $25 online. If the winery in Rocheport were to replace its equipment right now, it would have to sell 26,000 bottles to cover the cost.
Les Bourgeois Winery staff uses a line that was designed by Gai, a manufacturer in Italy that specializes in bottling machinery for wineries. Brand new, it costs $650,000.
“It costs as much as a Ferrari, but it’s not as much fun — especially if you have to replace it,” said Drew Lemberger, packaging, warehouse and managing partner.
Considering its value, Les Bourgeois bottling staff goes to great lengths to maintain it.
The machine has several levels of sanitation. Every morning, Dustin Sloan, the bottling line supervisor, sanitizes with high-proof alcohol and steam at a temperature that “permeates the metal and destroys bacteria,” Lemberger said.
A gaseous mixture called ozone, which is created when oxygen and electricity interact, is also used to kill bacteria, he said. Ozone is a high-standard cleaning technique used widely in the wine industry.
"If the line is well-maintained, it will last forever,” Lemberger said.
At capacity, the machine can turn 3,360 bottles in an hour. In contrast, the bottling staff spend about 90 minutes in the morning to prepare the bottling line for mass production.
Supervising editor is Derek Poore.