Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Day 2 - Boots and Wine

A very relaxed day. The only job consisted of cleaning a stinky drain with some corrosive shit, then I went to town to buy safety boots and got a pair of absolutely cool ones for just 40 bucks (the company does provide free footwear, but I decided to pay the difference for a slightly over-budget pair I fell in love with - Vulture 2599). For the rest of the day I stayed with a colleague, learning about wine making. Finally, the big boss has paid a visit to his winery to check the newest addition, a brand new production hall. He flew in with his helicopter from his lodge in the North Island and brought a bunch of bigjobs from the USA for tastings. About twenty bottles had been opened, tasted and then left untouched. Until the "working class" showed up. Cheers!

Monday, 27 February 2012

First day at the winery

Call me Mr. Scrubby. Everything's getting ready for harvest and for the big boss's visit. That means everything's getting sparkling and spotless. And that means that this morning, after filling in a pile of paperwork and receiving health and safety induction, I was assigned to the team with Mr. Bucket, Mr. Brush, Mr. Detergent and Mrs. Hose. It was hard and wet (work). Apart from the above mentioned team mates I also got to use the high pressure water blaster, which was a lot more fun, a lot wetter and a lot steamier. And my back didn't hurt so much after the job. Although the work has nothing to do with wine production as of yet, I've already learned something about it - making wine involves lots of cleaning.

I should probably say more about the winery in itself. There are lots of huge stainless steel tanks, about five metres high, there are two big presses and when they're not being used, they function as swimming pools. There are lots of other devices, such as filters, pumps, etc., but I won't be able to say much about them until I learn more about the whole process.

One of my colleagues, a Swiss guy with bachelor's degree in wine making, confirmed what many people already told me - that in New Zealand wine production is mostly a big industrial process, very different for example from France, where some wineries still use wooden tanks instead of steel ones, etc.

Ok, that's it for now, I need to sleep so I can start my second day in a less tired and clumsy fashion than the post-hard-boozing-weekend Monday. Good night.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Hard working, hard partying

We recently moved into a house, leaving hostel the psychotic hostel manager behind. By "we" I mean a group of friends that formed at the previous place, consisting of a bunch of Czechs and two French guys.
After almost a year of backpacking and camping it's nice to be able to say "my own accommodation" without referring to a tent. The house is nice and tidy, although the pile of beer bottles outside is growing to a scary size, and we've got a friendly and relaxed (again, no psychotic hostel manager) atmosphere. It wasn't so relaxed during last night's party, though. I'm glad no neighbour came at us with a shotgun when we started chopping wood for the fireplace at 3am and then at 5am again.

Our enjoyment was halted only by the unpleasant fact that we ran out of alcohol in the middle of the night and Blenheim isn't a town where you'd find a 24/7 booze shop.

I was planning to work on Sunday, since I'm starting the winery job tomorrow and this weekend was the last opportunity to "enjoy" the vineyard, but at 10am, after five hours' sleep, it didn't sound like such a good plan any more. Everybody, and especially Martin, the only other person willing to work on the day of rest and hangover, agreed that a trip to the supermarket for some fuel would be a better idea. The bike is great for transporting beer.

The other picture shows Martin's breakfast. We all had beef soup and beer, but he seemed to prefer the fancy stuff; apparently, carrot dipped in peanut butter tastes good. I couldn't tell if it's true, he ate the last one!

Friday, 17 February 2012

The holiday part of my Working Holiday is over, now it's just the working

I've just come back from the West Coast, my last cycling trip around New Zealand, finished off by a two-day ride from Motueka to Blenheim. The two weeks on the road were really sweet, however, it was a bit sad since I was aware that it was going to be my last ride for a very long time. Having explored most of the South Island and depleted almost all my money, there's nothing else to do but work non-stop till the time comes to fly back to Europe.

After all those months spent in Blenheim doing all sorts of vineyard work, I wanted to try something different, and apple picking sounded like a good option (apparently it's really good money, but also very hard work). Alas, the season in Motueka, the country's biggest apple region, doesn't start until the end of February, which is in two weeks time, and is closely followed by vintage in Marlborough, where I already have a job lined up in one of the local wineries. As a result, apple picking is not an option, and neither is staying idle (and broke) for two whole weeks, so guess where I am again. That's right, in Blenheim, doing yet another vineyard job! This time we're putting nets around the plants to protect ripening grapes from hungry birds' peckers. It's not the most exciting job in the world, but it'll carry me right through the weeks left till vintage. Vintage will finish just before I'm due at Christchurch Airport, and then hurray back to Europe. But don't worry about my bike, it's not going to be forgotten, I have big plans with my newly discovered passion!