Get your hands dirty
I’ve had the wine bug for a while now, but thought I should see for myself what happens behind the scenes at harvest time. So I took my soft office hands to a friend of a friend’s winery to get them dirty. It was a small biodynamic property in the Adelaide Hills. I spent a couple of days picking, washing barrels, plunging, cleaning tubs, checking acid levels and generally getting involved in whatever was needed. What struck me was how hard everyone works, often long into the night, to get just one more pump-over done, then set up to do it all over again the next day. Picking grapes is backbreaking work, but there was a great sense of camaraderie among the crew who came from all corners of the globe. Lunch was a time to stop and come together for a shared meal, cooked by the team members on a roster basis. Coffee was a religion and the end of the day was a time to soothe weary bodies with a beer or the fruits of past years’ labour. I used to look at wine prices in shops and wonder how they justified charging what they do; surely nature did most of the work. I now better appreciate the work, intensity and skill required, and look forward to rolling up my sleeves again next year. I’d encourage others to seek out similar opportunities – it may just open your eyes to a whole new wine world.