Another update from the sent mail of our outboxes on March 30th, 2011:
To answer everyone’s biggest, burning question, the Waipara Valley in
Canterbury on the South Island of New Zealand doesn’t look much like
the “Lord of the Rings” movies; although it does look somewhat like
Hobbiton at the beginning of the first film. Rolling hills of grass
cut by sheep paths shadowed by short mountain ranges surround us while
we work away in our winery.
In our first week, we were already extremely busy. The day we went to
work for Greystone we found out that they had just purchased the
winery directly next door called Muddy Water. In preparation for
making two labels at full production, the winery has had to bring in
new 5 ton fermentation tanks, new holding tanks, barrel racks, barrels
etc. All of this extra work isn’t something most winemakers would
want to do before the busiest season of the year for wine, but it has
been welcome as rain delayed harvesting for three days. Grapes swell
with water during and after a rain which would dilute their juice
making them less desirable for wine production; so, until they lose
some of that water weight, we wait. In the meantime, we expanded our
skill sets; learning how to operate pumps, scissor lifts, fork lifts
and ancient tractors.
Because grapes weren’t coming in, we were able to take last weekend
off and drive up the Eastern coast of the South Island to Marlborough
to go wine tasting. In the USA, most think New Zealand’s South Island
wines are predominantly Sauvignon Blanc with a little Pinot Noir and
Chardonnay tossed into the mix. In Marlborough, we were pleasantly
surprised to find a lot of fantastic Pinot Gris production. If you
can find a New Zealand Pinot Gris, buy it and drink it with a light
salad tossed with a fruity dressing.
Now, the grapes have since begun to come in and we have been working
long hours. Pinot has been through our sorting table, and Sauvignon
Blanc through the press. We are learning additional challenges
switching from conventional to organic and back. Luke began this email
and Jesse is finishing it, but we both have to run; a trailer full of
organic Pinot bins just pulled up.
We filmed our response to the first day of work, still severely jetlagged, as well as a brief tutorial on the challenging task of sulphuring barrels. Please enjoy!