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Goanvi:A look at a Portuguese Bottling Plant

Bottling Machine

When was the last time you looked at a bottle of Portuguese wine and thought to yourself, “So, how did they put this fine looking grape juice in the bottle?” We never really considered the question, until we had the opportunity to take a tour of a bottle facility just north of Lisbon in Portugal.

Located just outside of Alcobaca in Estremadura, Goanvi is a gigantic bottling plant spanning 12,000 square meters. Founded in 2006, the plant is dedicated to bottling bulk and private wine not only in glass bottles, but also in demijohns, Elopak (containers that look like milk cartons for wines) and boxed wines (also called bag-in-box).

Are the containers filled manually or mechanically? It’s actually a bit of both. If we’re talking boxed wines, each bag within the box is filled manually by a worker fitting the round rubber sealed opening onto a spigot that automatically releases 1.5, 3, 4 or 5 liters of wine. Although boxed wine in Iberia is relatively uncommon, you can find it in large supermarkets like Corte de Ingles or Lidl. I did, however, ask several winemakers throughout our trip if their winery produced boxed wine, assuming that the trend would be picking up as it had in several other countries around the world. Other than Lima Mayer & Companhia, who sold their boxed Portuguese wine directly out of the front door of the winery, the remainder of the winemakers looked at me as if I asked them to add artificial flavorings to their wines. Evidently, it’s not a very popular question, nor is it looked at as a “quality” wine container. The same is also true for Elopaks. Although becoming more popular throughout Europe, the trend has not taken off full steam as of yet.

The plant, as you might imagine, also contains several gigantic machines that do everything from filling the bottles to adhering the plastic cover on top of the bottle neck. One machine in particular is worth noting, because the sheer size of this monster is astounding. We’re talking the size of a semi truck capable of bottling 16,000 bottles an hour.

16,000 Bottle Machine

To give you a sense of how efficient this is, let’s hypothetically say that the machine is working a 5 day, 8 hour work week. If this were the case, it would produce 33,280,000 bottles a year, equal to the entire population of Canada. However, considering that we’re talking about Iberian machine, prone to a half dozen coffee breaks, the number may slightly reduce to maybe the population of Uganda.

How important is this service to Portuguese wineries? Although some wineries have their own bottling plants, several don’t the resources or funds to do so, requiring the services of a company like Goanvi. From collecting the juice at the winery to distributing it globally, Goanvi handles every aspect of the bottling process so little wineries in Estremadura, Ribatejo, Douro, Bairrada, Beiras, Peninsula de Setubal, Alentejo and Vinho Verde, don’t have to.

Goanvi, however, is not a lone soldier. In partnership with Bernardinos & Carvelho, a bulk wine trader and Sociedade Agricola Quinta do Gradil, a winery which we recently profiled in Estremadura, their goals are relatively straightforward: to increase Portuguese wine exports internationally, expand their bottling services rendered and increase the worldwide distribution of their own private labels.

Label machine

Currently, Goanvi is exporting to the USA, Africa (Angola, Cape Verde, Mozambique, S. Tome & Principe) and France, but are diligently working to get into both the Scandinavian and Asian market as well.

In addition to bottling other labels, Goanvi takes pride in producing their own wines from several regions throughout Portugal, some of which we had the opportunity to try and included our notes on the wines below.

If you have any questions about bottling, ways to get your wines bottled, or desire more detailed information on bottling in Portugal, let us know!


Ryan’s Tasting Notes

Terra Grande 2006
Red wine produced by Goanvi in Alentejo, Portugal
Note: Terra Grande – Alentejo Goanvi 2006 13.5%
Deeep red color with a nose that first whiff reminds me of a California Zinfandel. Black raspberry and clove spice, mint,not overly complex but very inviting. A Portuguese zin, overall nice fruit, not quite enough body to support the med-high acid but the fine firm tannins balance well. Rasp/black rasp on the palate a bit thin overall but probably a good grilled pork wine.

3 grape

(Tasted on August 11, 2007)

Gabriella’s Tasting Notes

Reserva 2005
Red wine produced by Goanvi in Estremadura, Portugal
Note: Touriga Nacional, Syrah and Tinta Roriz with 13.5% Alcohol. Deep ruby red wine showing a robust and pungent bouquet of grilled green peppers, basalmic, eucalyptus and dark forest berries. Soft, fine tannins and medium acidity accentuated the dark rich berry flavors leading into a long elegant finish.

4 grape

(Tasted on August 11, 2007)

Terra Grande 2006
Red wine produced by Goanvi in Alentejo, Portugal
Note: Trincadeira and Aragonez with 13.5% Alcohol. Dark crimson with a powerful black pepper nose. Over the course of an hour, the wine showed more blackberry, herbal and wet earth aromas. Medium to high acidity with velvety fine tannins. Needs a bit more body to counter the watery texture. Nice wine!

3.5 grape

(Tasted on August 11, 2007)

Casa da Gaeiras 2006
Red wine produced by Goanvi in Estremadura, Portugal
Note: Touriga Nacional, Syrah and Tinta Roriz, 13.5% Alc. Cherry bomb! Intermixed with the occasional appearance of a watermelon or mineral aroma. It walks an inviting line between being musky or perfumy. Medium fine tannins and great structure. Lots of canned cherry flavors with a touch of pepper to balance the fruit.

4 grape

(Tasted on August 11, 2007)

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