No, I’m not talking about eating pickled onions. New Zealand, being a long, thin country, is extremely windy. The Wairarapa must be one of the windiest places in New Zealand and here on Te Muna Road, at Redbank Estate, we must suffer some of the most shrieking, taunting, destructive winds in the entire universe! Well, I exaggerate, but yesterday the wind – nor’westerly – reached gusts of 86 kph and today the result is heartbreaking. Rowan came to the door asking for the shotgun to start birdscaring while he gathers a crew together to try and repair the nets. He was so disconsolate, having driven over the rise to come to work and seen large exposed tracts of vineyard. I went up to the top vineyard after lunch yesterday, when I’d fed the horses and noticed a bit of damage in the Pinot Gris nets, and while I was up there repairing them the wind reached gale force gusts. At times it’s almost impossible to stay on your feet. My hat got blown away; Taja’s ears were standing upright in the wind, and Kete wouldn’t stop meowing. In the end she went to bed. There’s nothing anyone can do when the wind gets like this; it’s like ten thousand banshees have been unleashed, along with fifty thousand devils who pluck at the nets until they sail up and off the vines, exposing the grapes – about four weeks off vintage – to the birds. The chookhouse, so solid Colin and I can only just shift it one inch at a time, got shifted on its axis by the wind. The chooks took off – they hate it when the wind blows up their bum feathers – and where did they go? Into the viognier where they have discovered how tasty the almost ripe grapes can be, and they jump up and eat them through the nets. Now I’m going to have to try and block off the ends of the rows with more netting. Right now all is calm, but I’m sure the wind is just having a little rest, lulling me into a false sense of security, before it starts roaring down that hillside again and into our vines.