Monday, 12 March 2012

Third week at the winery - a hermit among the crowd

Deja-vu? No, just another Sunday morning.
Cleaning tanks, cutting weeds, flying in a helicopter, becoming a hermit on temp-contract... in other words, pretty uneventful two weeks.

The last fortnight has been pretty quiet, but quite interesting. Even though I haven't done much stuff related to wine, I did lots of different jobs that were new to me, and none of them was as repetitive and boring as vineyard work. Weed whacking was good fun and although the bosses seem to consider it a necessary evil, I hadn't had enough even after three days. Some people think of it as punishment for naughty employees (e.g. those who turn up hangover), so I needn't worry about that, haha.

Another big task in every winery is cleaning tanks. You need a pump, some hoses and lots of chemicals. The tank is partially filled with water, which is then pumped in a loop into a jet (called hockey stick for its shape) and sprayed to the ceiling. The chemicals do a pretty good job - caustic soda dissolves the crap encrusted on the walls, citric acid neutralises the caustic soda and finally something with a very long name (peroxide oxysomething blablabla), which we simply call "stinky biscuits" kills all the bacteria. Cleaning a tank takes about an hour and there are several dozens of them around the place. The biggest I've had my hands on was 30 thousand litres, but we have 50s, 100s and even a 200 thousand-litre mastodon, big as a house. The good thing about this job is that with only one pump available and a chemical spray cycle taking between 10 and 25 minutes, there's lots of waiting time while the person is "technically" working. I always carry an e-book loaded in my phone...

I ended up doing some vineyard work, too, but it was a new thing (putting nets on), so again something different, and at the end of the day I got a free helicopter ride! It's quite unusual to be just hovering in mid-air without moving.

Third week - the real start
All the other cellar hands have arrived today and things finally got more interesting. They're a nice bunch of people from all over the place, three Americans, two French and a Spanish girl, some Kiwis and an Austrian guy (the nearest to where I'm from). Except for me and the Austrian, everybody else has some previous vintage experience, so we're the only rookies around, hurray!
I was originally supposed to start today, too, but they needed someone who was already in the area to help with a short-notice cleanup and hired me a bit earlier. It gave me the chance to familiarize myself with the place and the work, but I was feeling a bit alienated among all the full-time, experienced staff.

I don't wanna be a hermit!
I'm quite disappointed by the accommodation situation, though. Not about the quality, which is really good and the winery guys did an amazing job sorting it out, but about the current setup. They've rented four houses, three of which are in Seddon, all on the same street, perfect for socialising. However, one person ended up alone in the fourth house, which was meant for three, but two people changed their arrangement. That one person happens to be me, apparently because I have a bike and since the house is a stone's throw from the winery, I can cycle to work.

I don't know what they were thinking, but there's no way I'm going to live alone for almost two months, right in the middle of nowhere, just because I own a bicycle (which I won't use in shitty weather, and everybody has to drive past here to and from work anyway). I left a very nice and cheaper accommodation in Blenheim, I left friends I was happy living with, and I was looking forward to socialising with my fellow vintage workers, not to becoming a hermit. This totally sucks and I will complain first thing in the morning.

1 comment:

  1. v helikoptéře ti to moc suší,bro, a bydlení určitě vyřešíš!


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