Yesterday was picking day! Alistair and I woke up before the sun at 6:00 AM to get things ready for the troop of backpackers who would help clip beautiful fruit off the vine. The vines are all covered in white netting to protect the grapes from birds and from a distance it looks like a sea of giant spiderwebs. The early morning dew was thick so we got soaked removing the netting. Once the backpackers arrived, each was given a pair of pruning shears and a bucket and told “Put grapes in here”. Pretty simple. I spent most of the time removing row after row of netting but did a little picking as well. Unfortunately we got rained out and weren’t able to pick the whole lot of red grapes which, incidentally, are going to be turned into white wine (Pinot Gris, one of Blue Gables’ best sellers).
I learned from Alistair that different styles of grapes have to picked at just the right time, or, more accurately, just the right sugar level. He has some contraption that measures the level based on a sample. I was naive and assumed that anyone trying to grow something out of the ground would want as much rain as possible (Al mentioned that it hadn’t rained here since Dec. 8th) but vineyard owners really want control of the water more than quantity. Apparently rain dilutes the sugar content of the grapes so we have to wait a few days to harvest the rest of the Pinot Gris. I also learned the difference between a vineyard and a winery. A vineyard, like Blue Gables, grows the grapes and harvests them at the right time, but doesn’t make the actual wine. A winery does the pressing, fermenting, etc, to make the final product, with input from Al on how it should taste.
The one thing that I’ll remember most out about yesterday is not the dewy, early-morning sunrise, or the lovely purple fruit, or the rain that put and end to our pick. No, I’ll remember the flies. Way back in Sydney I noticed that the flies in Australia are relentless. They’re not like the polite, southern flies we have in Kentucky. These little bastards will not leave you alone, and for some reason they love ears. If you don’t shoo it away immediately it will try to head straight down your ear canal. Walking through a field is an exercise in swatting, slapping, and cursing. I HATE every last one of them!
So that was yesterday. Today I was back on label duty. 😦 I guess my skills are improving because today I did 44 cases in less time than it took me to do 35 cases the other day. That’s 948 bottles total. If I never label another bottle of wine I will die a happy man.