Harvest Diary from Chile – Day 2

20 April, Wednesday – Day 2

The day started somewhat after 7 a.m. with a breakfast of tea, bread and jam. Christian, the vineyard manager, was mastering the team of pickers up the hill from our log cabin, where we joined them in distributing the plastic crates. Once that was done, we collected the full crates of Syrah grapes and with the fully loaded tractor we descended into the valley where the winery sits.

Brendan had already set up the elevator to bring the bunches of grapes to the destemmer, which was joined to the triage table followed by the crusher and with the help of a peristaltic pump the crushed berries and juice went into a stainless steel tank. When the crates started to be emptied into the elevator, I took my position along the triage table with Omar and soon we found Catharina and Alejandra, two Chilean girls, on the other side. Eight hands were working diligently to get the stalks, leaves and stems out from the berries. We had done two tractor loads of grapes before we took a lunch leave.

After lunch we were back at the winery when Brendan got a call from Christian, the vineyard manager, that he needed help. So we were driven up the hill by Sven and found that most of the picking and carrying crew from the morning had left. This left the remaining part of the team and all of us from the winery to carry the crates full of grapes down the slopes to the point that was accessible by the tractor. It really taught me to appreciate the heavy work the day labourers were doing. Somewhat before 6 p.m. we were back at the winery with lots of grapes, but we did not process them. Rather the machines were washed and the winery cleaned up for the evening. A long and busy day it was with lots going on.

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