Saturday, April 23, 2011

Grape Harvest

The poor blog has been a bit neglected lately, but I have been anticipating getting back into regular posting. From mid  next week accommodation demands slow down somewhat, then Mike is away sailing on a friends boat for 5 weeks from May 10. Melina starts school on May 23, and I'm looking forward to some pleasurable hours whiled away in the garden. And when the weather is inclement I'll catch up on the paperwork. At the end of the solo parenting stint we're flying up to meet Mike in Vanuatu for a three week family holiday. Am excited about that!

But first to catch up on the backlog of garden happenings. The grape harvest was a particularly stressful one this year as we had a very wet summer, which meant a high incidence of fungal diseases, and slow ripening. There were many conversations back and forth, grape sampling, and a nervous couple of weeks as we decided to leave the syrah out for just that little but longer to increase ripeness - a risk as when it rains and the grapes swell up with water you can actually go backwards. I went through the day before picking and removed botrytis infected grapes - probably about 80kg. Picking day itself for the syrah was busy busy busy as I dealt with children (we let them stay home from school for harvest), numerous wasp stings (they were particularly bad this year as they fed on the grape juice while still on the vine), and put together a harvest lunch for some hospo industry volunteers who had come across from the big smoke for some hands on vineyard experience. I think I picked about three bunches total and I only managed to take the following two photos the entire day:

 This was shortly before her wasp sting.... I thoroughly recommend fast application of a lavendar oil soaked plaster for stings by the way.

 And that's Alex still dressed in his early morning warm clothes - he was up before dawn with Mike, laying out the picking bins down the rows while Mike drove the tractor.

I took a few more picture a couple of weeks earlier for the flora and pinot gris harvest when we weren't nearly so tired or stressed. The flora always ripens early, and was not affected by disease.

 Pickers down the rows. We have a contract team of about 20 or so, so we can pick the entire harvest  in about 3- 4 hours. They are always an interesting mix of locals and backpackers. Most of them are positive and work hard - the ones that moan don't get much sympathy from me! And usually don't last the season either....


 In bins ready for the truck to transport to winery. Each of these bins weighs about 400kg. We had a total harvest of about 2.5 tonnes for each of our grape varieties.

Mike on tractor driving duties - and he's smiling despite our tractor getting stuck and getting a flat tyre - luckily we live in a small friendly community and could borrow the neighbours tractor from just up the road to finish the job.

Nets were taken off a couple of days ago, and now it is the quietest time of the year in the vineyard as we wait for the leaves to fall. Pruning starts in July.

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