Welcome to Winery Bootcamp: Vintage Part I

I love my job. Really, I do. Working vintage down under is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Working for Jim Barry after one vintage is like the winery version of basic training. Every day you go into it thinking you’re prepared and every day they find a new way to tear you down and make you stronger. There is almost always some way you can be doing your job better, and until you find it you’d better be trying to find it because efficiency is everything.

Without contest I have legitimately never worked so hard in my life. While I was on day shift, from dawn to dusk I was practically (and literally) sprinting from one job to the next. There’s always something to be done, so the more you can accomplish the better.

We try find 10 minutes to sit down for morning break (or as they call it, “Smoko”), but if you’re in the middle of an important job you usually just grab something and keep going. Even taking our 30 minute lunch breaks is a struggle. Not because it’s impossible to find the time, but 15 minutes into it I find I’m already anxious to go start something new. Which is good because every new task is another chance to learn!

While in the beginning vineyard sampling and analysis was a huge part of my job, now that we’ve gotten reds in it’s pumpover and rack and return city. For those who don’t know, a pumpover is when you pump the juice from the bottom of the tank over the cap of skins that float up and stick together to extract more color, flavor, and intensity. I suppose you could just throw a bunch of berries into a tank for a few weeks and hope for the best, but most red wines are made this way. A rack and return is when you take all of the juice out of the tank and then pump it back over the top, which allows the wine to aerate a little more.

Meaning my hands now are stained deep, deep purple from holding hoses over tanks. And I love it. My body is constantly sore from carrying heavy buckets up stairs, and I’m pretty sure I’ve pulled both of my thumb muscles trying to connect and disconnect things but it shows how hard we’ve been working so I regret none of it.

There’s still a few more weeks of this 12+ hour shift, 6+ days a week intensity and tonight I change to night shift so I’m setting this intention: No matter how hard it gets, no matter how much I feel like quitting or crying when it’s hour 11 and I just can’t get something right, I will push through. I will keep fighting to do the best that I can, every day. I will keep listening and learning from those around me. And I will keep pushing to help make the best wine possible because that is what I am here to do.

Love you all, miss you all, and cheers to six more weeks before this beautiful mess.

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