It began with an array of memories that washed over my mind. Then there were the Steely Dan songs I heard aired on the radio. Then I was outside gardening and loving the feeling of dirt between my fingers.
All this developed into a deep longing. I recall the sensation as it was building: A palatable excitement…A nervous grin…An itch…
Yes. My brain was trying to tell me that I had to go and work a couple of days in a winery again.
I wanted to giggle with enjoyment as I felt the grapes between my toes. I wanted to run up steel catwalks carrying splashing buckets. I wanted to hear the warnings from below as I precariously traversed the top of tanks. I wanted to get three bruises in a day from running into ill-placed valves. And to be totally honest, I wanted to see if I would remember anything, even basic cellar tasks, after having left the winery life in mid-2010. Trust me, I had doubts.
I took the opportunity on the Labour Day weekend to hang with one of my best friends (and ex-winemaking boss) at his winery in Melbourne’s west.
I got dressed excitedly the morning of day one. It was as if it was my first day of school again. Look, I even photographed my boots since it had been so long in-between takes.
Upon arrival, the day began with a number of simple tasks. Fortunately, the ‘cellar rat’ within me (an endearing term for those who work in winery cellars) had not diminished and I went about my way with aplomb. On my own I attacked my first mission: a large vessel sat out the back filled with bobbing red grapes that were awaiting to be foot-plunged. Off came the shorts and into the ferment I went. Giggles ensued (Note: this is a PG rated blog [I think] – so no photos).
The following day saw the pickers put out into the shiraz vineyard who harvested the main block in Werribee.
Matt and I stayed in the winery as the fruit came in. I stood atop the crusher with a shovel in my hand ready to feed the grapes in.
The crushed result.
Ongoing ferments were pumped over.
Chardonnay barrels were tasted.
The days ended in laughter.
The two days in the winery allowed me to have a good crack (see my lame pun below) and I will admit, I adored the fleeting moment I had to get dirty with grapes again. Now that I know how to identify that urge, perhaps I won’t leave it so long inbetween visits.
[A hazard when working in wineries...the infamous 'Plumbers Crack'. Matt was only too happy to show me his.]