Vintage 2013 blog- A vintage day in the life of a winemaker

3.00am Husbands alarm goes off and he is up to meet the harvesters and tractors arriving at the vineyard surrounding our house, Rayments Block. The Shiraz is being picked this morning. I roll over and try to get a couple of extra hours sleep.

3.20am Husband lets the dog inside as she is getting in the way of the tractors. This is Saaz’s first vintage, so she is not used to all the machinery yet. Dog settles in and falls asleep on the floor next to the bed.

3.30am Dog fast asleep and snoring so loudly that she is almost drowning out the sound of the tractors and harvesters. Put the pillow over my head.

4.00am Dog still snoring, me still awake.

4.20am The snoring is relentless. Decide to get up and see how the harvesting is going.

5.00am Try to pop back into bed to sleep for a little bit more. Dog is a snoring machine.

Saaz sleeping & snoring......again
Saaz sleeping & snoring……again

6.00am 2 year old awakes with the noise of the harvesters. He is super pumped that there are tractors outside his room, so has put on his rubber boots and is heading out the door. I give up trying to sleep. Dog is still snoring.

6.10am Husband comes inside to eat a quick breakky, I head off to do some exercise.

7.00am Stunning sunrise over the vineyard. The Rayments Block shiraz is looking good, though crops are down. This fruit is heading up to Penfolds at Nuriootpa. Regretting doing push-ups as part of my exercising already.

Sunrise over Rayments Block Shiraz
Sunrise over Rayments Block Shiraz

7.10am Breakfast for 2 year old and 10 year old. Get 10 year old to hurry up, remember her homework, brush her hair, eat her breakfast, brush her teeth……. Shove breakfast into 2 year olds mouth as he tells me about green tractors and ‘harbestas’ and forklifts and trucks.

Koen helping Daddy on the forklift
Koen helping Daddy on the forklift

7.30am Wake dog up. Get dog and children into car. Handpicking starts in the Fiano. Quick visit on the way to the school bus. Taste the machine picked Fiano for Angoves from the night previous as it loads on the truck up to the Riverland. Looking good indeed. Good acids and fresh flavours. Don happy with the way the fruit is coming off, and pumped with the tonnage after last years very light, hail-affected Fiano crop.We have all hands on deck this morning- Margie & Brioni are both on the pick up tractors, along with the rest of our vineyard crew- Don, Aaron, Patrick, Dominic, Graham & Jim.

Brioni is giving the Fiano the thumbs up!
Brioni is giving the Fiano the thumbs up!

8.00am Drop 10 year old at bus stop and she is off to school.

8.10am Drop 2 year old to day care. The car feels very quiet….until the dog starts snoring again.

8.20am Back to vineyard for Fiano handpicking. Hot and windy in the vineyard.

Handpicking in full swing
Handpicking in full swing

10.00am SA Life TV arrive to film the Fiano handpicking for a future story on alternative varietals. Try to look like I haven’t been up all night and try to clean the grape juice and dirt mix off my face. Smile for the camera.

11.00am First load of Fiano leaves for the winery (Yangarra), and I follow it.

11.50am Fiano unloaded at Yangarra and starts tipping into the basket press. We have ended up with 10 tonne. Super excited with the tonnage and how the fruit looks. Maybe this year we wont sell out after a couple of months!!

The Fiano arrives at Yangarra
The Fiano arrives at Yangarra

12.00pm Tasting round of other ferments at Yangarra. Vermentino started its natural ferment and is looking super gingery and has a butter menthol note as well that the whole cellar are talking about. The Cemetery Block Shiraz is half way through ferment and the aromas are jumping out of the glass- black currant, violet, other florals, a spicy note and more black fruits. Tempranillo ferment is also looking good. After a 2 day cold soak, the ferment has started and the blue fruit characters abound. Great tannin structure already.

12.20 Tasting the Fiano juice from the press. In the meantime, organising the next weeks picking plan with Don and the winery. Stressing about the heat, the fact that all the blocks are ripening up at once and trying to ensure we get harvesters/handpickers/fermenters/crushing slots/trucks/tractors and enough sleep for everyone in between. Delicate balance.

Fiano juice splashing into the press tray
Fiano juice splashing into the press tray


4.00pm Pick up 10 year old from the bus. Back out to winery to taste Fiano juice from the press. Heat up dinner to husband as he is about to leave in the truck to head up to the Barossa to deliver the Rayments Block Shiraz to Penfolds.

5.00pm Pick up 2 year old from day care. He is still talking about ‘harbestas’. Back out to winery to taste Fiano juice from the press. Half way through the pressing of the Fiano now- slow process with the basket presses, but wouldn’t have it any other way. 2 year old pestering to sit on the forklifts and climb the scaffolding to the top of the tanks. Do more exercise- this time going up and down to the top of the fermenters with 2 year old…..a number of times.

6.30pm Head home. Defrost home made bolognase, and cook up pasta. Feed kids. Feed dog. Feed chickens. Feed cat. Shower kids. Water the vegetable garden. Pick ripe tomatoes and chilli.

7.00pm Read story to 2 year old. 10 year old reads to me and I check her homework. Kids to sleep. Dog back to sleep.

10.00pm Husband returns from Barossa. Falls into bed. I head out to Yangarra for last press tasting. Excited to get around 5500L of gorgeous Fiano juice. No adds required- acid level at 10g/L- crazy goodness.

11.00pm Home to bed. Husband snoring.

5.00am Husbands alarm goes off and he is off picking again……and the vintage days roll into the next.