It's Saturday morning but I woke up at 6:45am, unable to get back to sleep. That is something that sucks about working at the vinyard. I thought I'd do a post about the vinyard, just so people know what it's like.
I work for this guy Dave, who owns a large piece of property. He is not alligned with any winery in particular, he is just Dave. He also has a small block of apples, as well as saffron bulbs planted in the middle of some of the grape rows. He harvested & prepared about a kilo of saffron this year - worth around $25k (or so I've been told).
I work with two people mainly - Terry and Tracy. Terry is in his own little world. He is short, balding, wears very old clothes, and sort of mumbles to himself a lot. He is quite happy at the vinyard because he seems to have conversations in his head. He loves it. I like Terry though, because he can be quite funny at times. He is not as unintelligent as you might think at first. Tracy has the foulest mouth I have ever heard. She is VERY skinny, has legs like kermit, is white as a ghost, and has dirty ginger hair. She is 32 years old - and she looks about 52 because she smokes about a packet a day and refuses to wear sunscreen. My favourite quote from her was when she was bitching about someone else that used to work hear, and how she had a foul mouth, and she said "You should have heard the fucking words coming out of that fucking bich's mouth!" I just smiled to myself.
At the moment we are doing three jobs. I'll explain each of them.
When you grow grapes you have one fixed wire at a fixed height. You grow the vines up to the wire, and then train it down onto the wire so that it grows first up out of the ground and then horizontal along the wire. From this a whole heap of other shoots grow, and you want them to grow straight up - not in all directions. So you have a wire on each side that is NOT fixed, and you can lift up onto some nails. This holds all the vine growth in - and makes it look like a wall of grape vine. Lifting this wire is called Wire Lifting. A good job, as it is not back breaking, and allows for conversation.
When the vines are growing up to the wire you want only ONE stem to grow to the wire - so you create a 'trunk' for the plant. When they are young, they grow many 'trunks' so you have to remove them and break it down to one stem. This removal of all the laterals (stems that will grow into their own vine system, not just leaves) is called Bud Rubbing. Early on you can actually remove the buds instead of this, and this does the same thing. That's why it's called Bud Rubbing.
Finally yesterday we did some apple thinning. When you have a tree with large bunches of fruit, they often grow too small - because there is not enough juice in the tree to support all the fruit, the fruit grow against eachother and bruise eachother, or the fruit bunches can get too heavy and break branches off. So we thin out all the bunches of apples (when they are just wee tiny things) down to 2's and 3's. Yesterday I was working with newly planted trees, and we had to remove almost every fruit from the trees.
And THAT my friends is the vinyard & orchard. Next week we are planting saffron bulbs. I'll tell you about it after it happens.
Hope all is well in Christchurch. Blenheim is sunny, hot, friendly, but I miss all my friends.