We bottle our Grand Tawny on a fairly regular basis. Taking tiny amounts of the fortified wine out of the bottom row of barrels and bottling by hand four times a year. This uses up something like 10% of the volume of these oldest barrels and before we reduce these barrels any further it is time to refresh and replenish them.  We do this by topping them (filling them up) with Tawny from the next row of barrels above them. These barrels in turn will need to be topped with stock that is younger, which comes from the next row of barrels. Then these barrels will need to be topped… you guessed it… and so ad infinitum. Well, not quite ad infinitum or we’d never get the job finished, but the stack is six rows high, so it is still a big task.  When all is done, we refill the top barrels with young Tawny, perhaps three to five years old.

The whole system works to provide a consistent supply of aged tawny for bottling and sale. The younger wine which is used for topping keeps the old stock fresh and vibrant while the solera works to slowly mature and incorporate the yearly addition of younger wine.