Saturday, 19 April 2008

Grape picking

A couple of weeks ago I went to harvest grapes for a friend of a friend on their vineyard in Te Horo. For some reason this is something I have always wanted to do.

I love vineyards. William Morris once wrote “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” I think this is a lesson to live by. It certainly applies to vineyards.

The spacing of the vines forms perfectly symmetrical rows of brilliant green or flaming red depending on the season. The tendrils curl in crazy ways around the supporting wires to hang on and take over. The roses often planed at the end of the vines bloom tenderly but are readily sacrificed to a purpose.

As for the grapes themselves; they are bold goblets of rich flavour and are decorated in sumptuous skins. When pressed, they release wildly hedonistic juices to be converted into decadent delights. Beautiful and functional; they combine artistry with industry – what more could you want?

So I loved being there picking the grapes, even when it started raining, my back was aching and my fingers sticky. I loved the ride on the tractor (my first ever) and the lunch provided, as we sat around an outdoor table tucking into bread and cheese with banana cake and wicked fudge.

And I loved being paid in wine! Look out for Avatar (available at Macs Brewery Bar and St John’s Bar in Wellington) – it’s great, and when the 2008 pinot noir vintage comes out, I had a hand in it. It was tiring work but it felt good to be getting to the grass roots of a thing I love from all angles.