The 2020 vintage was certainly a different one for us.
It takes a team of about sixteeen pickers three days to hand pick our Pinot Noir. Luckily, because the summer was hot, the grapes ripened a bit earlier than normal. Hence we were able to use our picking team to hand pick all the Pinot before we went into lockdown.
However we were not able to use them to handpick everything else.
Fortunately, we in the wine industry were granted “Essential Worker” status. So, after many hours of filling out forms and getting all the necessary procedures and compliance in place, our core staff were allowed to continue to work and we were able to continue picking grapes and making wine.
We grouped our staff into three bubbles. Valley Josh and I lived at our house and had all our coffee and lunch breaks there. Liam and Charles, our French assistant winemaker, were living in the same house and were another bubble and Dale and Graham formed the third bubble and had their breaks in the vineyard. There was an awful lot of hand sanitising and meetings with social distancing but apart from that we were able to get on with it.
The Chardonnay, which is usually picked by a team of 12 over two days was picked by the five of us over four long days. It was the same thing for the Riesling, Merlot etc. Luckily the weather was very calm and sunny over this period so we did not have to rush to get it all in.
One usually unpopular job is taking the skins to the farm in Tea Pot Valley to be used as animal feed. Unpopular because it involves shovelling the skins out of the bins onto the existing heaps – which have a definite farmyard aroma and are buzzing with flies. Normally I can’t get people to help me with this job but this year I was flooded with volunteers from our bubble. Under lockdown it was a nice trip away!