Interesting ‘actions’ in the winery

10 Mar
2010

My oh my what a day! It was definitely not as busy as usual which was a nice break from the craziness of it all but there was fun to be had in the winery today!

OK so I didn’t start off the day amazingly well. Harry cracked it at me because I put a 1500L tank accidentally on top of a hose…hence we had a very squashed wine hose. Five hours later Harry got around to heating the hose up and stretching it back out again. But he wasn’t initially very proud of me…a bit of swearing got thrown around, but that’s Harry.
In the afternoon after redeeming myself by completing most of my work I went on the white ferment Baume round with assistant winemaker Josh. We had a good look at everything, having a whiff of the ferments, tasting them, recording the temperature’s and sugar levels, then noticed the Pinot Gris tank 54’s level was really high. We knew it was probably filled too much in the first place (thanks Stuart), but were hoping it wouldn’t crack along too quickly for it to overflow. The temperature was getting in the 19C area so we decided to ‘ultracool’ the ferment.
Anyway, I’m waffling. I want to get to my interesting ‘actions’ story! Yes, I know all your dirty minds want to hear it too!
So I’d finished up my area and was going to go up to the lab and see if the winemakers had anything going on for me. Paul my boss was up there and didn’t but we had a good chat working things out about how the reds are all going to fit in when they’re coming in, then he asked me to hang around while they crush this last Shiraz fruit that just arrived and I can see how they set up the open fermenters.
Basically, the main area of the Henschke red fermentation lot is made up of 10 rectangular concrete waxed pits that hold about 4.5 t of fruit each. They use wooden boards over the top short way, then two longer boards the length way then little wooden blockers to keep the skins submerged under the liquid. They call them ‘heading-down boards’. I told Paul I was a heading-down board putterinerer virgin as I’d never worked in a winery where they were used before. Him and I climbed up to the fermenters and precariously made our way around the edge of the pits and began slotting the boards in. At one stage while I was grabbing boards off the guys below I had my belly resting on the concrete edge with my legs dangling over one bubbling pit of shiraz wine and the other body resting over the shiraz juice where I was trying to place the boards. Fun fun fun!
Anyway, we got one lot in then had to squash the lot down to fit in the wooden blocks which keep the whole thing down and are under a lot of pressure. The best way to do it is to get the weight of people behind you and sort of jump up and down (without really jumping) to wiggling the block in. I don’t know if I’m writing this well to create a picture in your head but I will hopefully get a picture in here one day.
So I was on one side, and Stuart climbed up and was in the corner with his back facing Paul who was behind him. They sort of had their arms in front of them and were moving up and down forward and back at the same time trying to work up enough of a see-saw movement to squash the load down with their weight. It would have been more helpful if I was over there putting my weight on it too but at the time all I could do was crack up laughing because of the angle I was at meant that the two boys looked like they were going at it Mardi Gras-style on top of a bunch of grapes. Paul got wind of what it must look like and before we knew it him and I were both keeling over laughing, wishing we had a camera to YouTube Henschke to fame…in a totally unorthodox way!

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