The rituals of vinegar brewing are like the seasons themselves. There are regular tasks that need to take place at specific times of the year. February is the month that we begin bottling Rockbridge Cider Vinegar.
The bottling will continue on-and-off for several months, as the vinegar reaches perfection in each vinegar-brewing vat.
We buy our bottles in September each year from a glass bottle supplier in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I travel to pick up several thousand bottles in our trusty truck and return to unload them at the brewery.
I use a digital bottling machine that dispenses a precise amount of liquid. That way we can insure that the customer gets the same amount of vinegar in each bottle.
We put caps on the bottles as soon as they are filled. The bottle caps are then shrink-wrapped using a machine that heats the wrapper onto the cap. Labeling each bottle is the final step. All of this is done by hand.
It is a bit monotonous filling hundreds of bottles at a time by hand, but a rhythm is soon established and Bluegrass music is turned up loud to make the task easier.
After a long day, there is a lot of satisfaction in seeing pretty rows of bottles filled with amber-colored, apple cider vinegar.