01 March 2012

A Slightly Different Harvest

There was a slight diversion from working in the vegetable gardens yesterday to help with a harvest of a much larger scale.  It's vintage time in the vineyard so it was all hands on deck to help harvest the grapes.  Even though I've helped out many times before, I seem to always completely forget how much messy, hard physical work it actually takes to create wine.  It certainly reminded me that when you're in a bottleshop contemplating buying something interesting from a small vineyard, it's worth spending a bit more money for all the muscle-power that went into creating it!

Yesterday was the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and my main job of the day was to run behind the tractor (I got the sack from driving it after about 30 seconds of continuous bunny-hopping!) and pick up full buckets of grapes, dump them into the big bin behind the tractor, then throw the buckets back to the pickers.  Every time the pickers started work in a new block I got to do my favourite job, which was to drive the Hilux ute (definitely my favourite form of vineyard transport!) while someone else ran behind picking up the empty buckets from the picked block and then redistributing them to the next rows.  

The grapes are obviously not picked until their sugar content is high and they are full and juicy.  So you basically spend the whole day covered in liquid sugar, which then gets immediately covered in dirt.  This is all fine until the sun comes out, when bees instantly appear, attracted to the smell of the juice...luckily yesterday was fairly overcast.  Despite all that, and going home utterly exhausted last night, it's great fun and there's a real camaraderie between everyone.  So remember the love (and dirt and pain!) that goes into hand-picked wine next time you're choosing a bottle.

A full bin of Pinot Noir grapes on the back
of the tractor ready for processing. (And no,
before you ask, we didn't stomp on them in
bare feet, there's a machine!!)

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