Friday, September 25, 2009

How to Survive a vintage...

When you're smack bang in the middle of vintage and your supervisor laughs as he finds you on your feet leaning against a tank fast asleep at 3am you really do start to wonder what it's all for. That was my second vintage when I learned that night shift was just not for me, no matter how much candy, red bull, coffee or cheese toasties I consumed.

Every vintage I feel like I learn a heap of things in such a short space of time. This is my fifth vintage so far and I feel like I should be blowing out candles and cutting cake! Well, I did just celebrate my 23rd Birthday so I must be just still in the mood but I think it should be celebrated when you get to your fifth vintage and still feel the itch for fruit to come in and the excitement of the first load of fruit pulling up on the back of a flat bed.

The more I learn about wine, the more I don't know! After 3 years of studying it for my Bachelor's degree back home in New Zealand, and 5 years in the industry abroad, I still feel like a spring chicken intern. I know I could setup a pumpover in my sleep, and often have the odd haunting nightmare of broken hydrometers scattered around the cellar. I asked my boss Sally if she could interpret the dream for me and I think she was spot on: "I think you're bored and itching for vintage to start."

A very wise woman said to me recently: Be patient, and enjoy the beauty of it. Patience is a virtue; one that I clearly am lacking. We have been waiting patiently for these grapes to peak to their tastiest, and its already officially Fall! I'm reading all the blogs about crazy long hour days and juice splattered interns. Right now I feel like I hardly even deserve my beer at the end of the day.

But to be patient, is to spend a lifetime in the wine industry, knowing I will never know all there is to know about wine. Which is exactly what I intend to do. On my vintage experiences around the world I have learned that in order to survive a vintage:

  • Look after your feet

  • If you're hungry - EAT something!

  • Always find time to laugh

  • Why try harder when you can try easier? Keep it simple... stupid.

  • Even if you're a 23 year old girl from New Zealand, don't feel like you have to prove yourself.

  • The best way to earn the trust of your new work mates... is to feed them.

  • Do not underestimate the value of communication!
Here at Pride within a couple weeks I have learnt how to rescue someone inside a confined space wearing a SCBA tank, the do's and dont's of forklifting, how to weigh fruit (as of today I am an official WEIGHMASTER!), how to run a press, a pumpover and free sulphur all at once, and how to make a delicious steak marinade!

I intend to keep you updated on my experience of this wonderful winery so stay tuned. You most definitely need to check out Daniel Orisson's amazing blog entries for Chateau Montelena and I also have my own personal blog called Eno Files - everything you don't want to know about wine! at

Photos are to come!

Buona Vendemmia! (Have a good vintage in Italian)

(Little Kiwi Intern)

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