Nikki in New Zealand – working the vintage

Working the vintage – a really interesting experience 

So what have I been doing the last week and a half at Forrest Wines? It has certainly proved very different from RedHeads in the Barossa, mostly because RH was more manual, I could do less damage and could just get on with the physical slog.

At Forrest Wines, there are many pumps, around 30 tanks of various sizes, none that large, but certainly bigger than those at RedHeads. There’s a brand new, fancy dancy monster of a harvester that tips the destalked grapes into the lorry, then the lorry trundles them to the winery, up to a receival bin into which the lorry slips the grapes and they get piped into one of two bag presses … so none of this by-hand malarkey on that front.

tipping arneis

There’s the monster harvester carefully tipping grapes into the lorry

sauvignon grapes

Scotty drives the truck and slips the grapes into the receival bin

So, having been here for 10 days, I feel I have learnt a bit; that I have very little practical knowledge, only theoretical and that’s limited to a writer’s perspective, but I understand the processes and there are a few things I can do on my own!! Hurrah – just because I’d rather be of assistance than a hindrance!

Lindsay has been my patient teacher for the majority of the time, and hasn’t looked too exasperated at my occasional stupidity … just the odd smile that needs no words! So, I’ve been breaking down the residue left after fermentation – you spray a lot of water at it, cleaning the tank as you do it, so it morphs from a green olive paté texture to one that’s more of a leek-and-potato soup consistency. This enables you to pump it out. This is ‘technically’ described here as ‘desnotting’ – not a nice expression I know, but it’s that colour and I’ve rather got used to now.

thick goo - lees

Here are the thick lees – dead yeasts after fermentation – in its rather lumpy state


Breaking down the solids with water – or desnotting!

When it’s the right consistency, you need to pump it into a tank on a trailer and off you go with it on the back of the quad bike. I’ve got better at driving that, getting the right wide arc turning into the rows of vines. First time I did it on my own I tried to get going with the pipe from the tank still tied on, the trailer wasn’t attached properly so dropped off and I hadn’t put the end of the pipe over the drain! Three mistakes – but I haven’t done them again!

quad bike

Ooo – my first time driving a quad bike. Still you can’t get very daring or speedy with a trailer full of gloop on the back!


About Laithwaites Wine

Laithwaite's began in 1969, when Tony Laithwaite took a job washing bottles in Bordeaux... and fell in love with real wine and the people who make it. When he borrowed a van to share these delicious wines with friends and neighbours at home, things went so well that boutique wineries were soon queuing to take part. Today we're the UK's No.1 home-delivery wine merchant, with over 1,500 wines to choose from... including red, white and rosé, plus Champagne and sparkling, beer and cider.

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