Friday, 27 April 2012

Night shift from hell

Vintage 2012 at Vavasour Wines is officially over. The fruit has all come home and my last night shift is a thing of the past. Thank goodness!

The last shift, at least part of it, was seriously messed up. At some point I was genuinely afraid what would happen next and if I was going to get through the night alive. It was a model Friday 13th, except it was Thursday 25th...

It all started with disconnecting a hose...


We use a hi-yield pump and a 4" hose to push the crushed fruit (which is called "must") into the press. Once the load is all inside, a person standing by closes the press by shutting a pneumatic valve and starts the pressing cycle. Only then can I disconnect the hose and hook it on to the next press.

That's the theory. Last night, though, I was a bit too quick at unhooking the hose, not realising that the valve was still open. Since we had just squeezed a really big load into the press, there was a "slight" excess of pressure...

Normally, when the hose is unhooked, some must comes out, I catch it into a bucket and chuck it in with the next load. It was more than a bucket this time... Before I new it, the product started spraying out like from horse's arse if the horse wouldn't defecate for a month, and within seconds the floor was covered in green juicy stuff. Ok, accidents happen, lesson learned, never unhook a hose before the valve is shut. Case closed...

... or not.

I saved as much must as I could into a big bucket and started shoveling it into the hopper with the next truckload. When it was almost empty, I picked it up to tip the rest in, but I slipped, the bucket fell off the stairs with me nearly following suit, the juicy stuff splattered on the still clean floor on the other side of the crush pad, and obviously the must pump overflowed in the meantime...

That was my boiling point. Czecho-English curses flew through the night with whatever item was in reach of my kicking foot (I believe it was the shovel). It must have been quite a show, even the manager came all worried to see what was going on...

When I got my temper under control, I finished crushing the load, cleaned the mess, prepared everything for the next truckload and went for a relaxing walk under the stars. Except there were no stars. After weeks of nice weather, we had a cloudy night.

A bit later, when everything seemed to be back in order, I tripped over a water hose, then I tripped over the clamp holding the 4" to the must pump, then I tripped on the steps... and I really started dreading the eight hours still left till the end of the shift.

Luckily, that seemed to be the end of the trouble and everything went smoothly until the end. Except for the rain that arrived twenty minutes before knock-off time, caught me on the crush pad and then on the cycle-ride home.

What a "juicy" last shift.

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