Tomorrow we pick the Viognier. The weather forecast is for southerlies (chilly) with showers, but we can’t let the grapes sit on the vines any longer. The last test came in with the brix at 26 and some of the grapes are raisin-like, which is good. This morning I had a crash course with David Bull at Cabbage Tree, so now I have to mix the Bentonite (clay-like stuff )which will take the protein out of the juice, and take out some of the nutrients at the beginning to stop the ferment at the end. I also watched while David added settling agent, pectonase, and “meta” (potassium metabisulphide – an antioxidant) to Chardonnay he and Winifred picked in the last two days. This is what Colin and I shall have to do on Saturday to the juice after we have pressed it at Stonecutter Winery up the road. Then we prove and add the yeast on Sunday. Am I nervous? A little. My head is swirling, but I took careful notes, and just thought back to my days as a feature writer for North & South magazine, when I had to fully understand what the interviewee was telling me so I could go back to my desk and write an article which my readers could understand. In situations like that, you have to jettison your ego and ask questions that make you look completely stupid because if you don’t understand, your readers won’t understand. And if I didn’t understand what David was explaining to me, there was no way Colin was going to understand the information I have to pass on to him tomorrow when we have pressed our precious Viognier.
I also had a practice at plunging the cap of David’s Pinot Noir, a job I shall have to do four times a day for our Syrah, which we are picking on Monday. It was very – what can I say? – physical. I will emerge from this vintage looking like a Russian wrestler.
Meanwhile, Rowan and the crew have removed the nets from the Pinot Noir and the Pinot Gris and the vineyard is looking beautiful as it prepares for the next stage, pruning.
And this isn’t our vineyard, but a lovely scene on the way into town. It’s an empty old cottage I once photographed when it was waist-high with summer grass. Now, glimpsed through the autumn colours of Te Kairanga vines, it’s just as alluring.