Friday, 17 February 2017
A few weeks ago, we were invited to help some friends in Stanthorpe thin out their wine grapes, because the grapes were too thick on the vines and if they didn’t thin them, the grapes would be about half the size and weight come harvest, which would have resulted in less wine (and we can’t have that, now can we?).
We left Warwick really early – 4:30 am early. A friend picked us up, and I was glad not to be driving. We had hoped that Jimmy would go back to sleep once in the car, but a different car and a different car seat were too exciting. And the landscape was bathed in the most delicate light as the sun rose behind a cloud covered sky. The plan was to beat the heat, because the previous few days had been very hot and the day for the thinning was predicted to be about the same.
As I mentioned, the morning was overcast, which was wonderful, and it was cool and stayed cool and overcast until around 9 or 10 am. Jimmy’s jumper was actually needed, until about 8 am, but getting it off him was quite the task. Getting food into him was a lot easier, but given that he had to wait over an hour from when he woke up to when I offered him an apple, it really shouldn't have been surprising.
With Jimmy along, one parent needed to be with him at all times, so only one of us could do the thinning (Michael) while the other (me) occupied Jimmy or picked him up when the lovely but bouncy dog was a little too much for him. Sometimes Jimmy was quite happy to hang around Daddy for a bit or the friend who drove us down, and in these moments I emptied full buckets of grapes into the pallets.
The grapes being thinned were sour but not wasted: they went to another friend who turned them verjuice. I've seen it in recipes but have never used it, so I'm excited to test the results when the verjuice is ready.
Keeping Jimmy entertained was interesting. I'd brought pencils and paper for him to do some drawing, but he wanted to sit on one bucket and use another upturned bucket as a desk and it just wasn't working for him. He used my camera for a bit and took a blurry one of me but I thought grapes in a white bucket was a better photo, and I could be wrong but at least the grapes were in focus.
Someone noticed this little fellow as they were thinning a section and called us over. Isn't is a cute little lizard? It was really lovely of them to call us over – the whole mood was friendly and there was a real sense of community in the group, especially from those who had been involved in picking the grapes previous years. To be included was something special.
When we weren't helping empty buckets of grapes or patting the dog (or, in Jimmy's case, trying to avoid the dog because she's bouncy and their faces are about the same height), Jimmy and I were enjoying the morning and the location. I've always liked Stanthorpe, and love the difference in flora and landscape less than an hour from Warwick. We've been out to this winery, and Stanthorpe, a fair bit over the last few months and I've enjoyed every visit – and this morning was no exception.
Our friends who once the vineyard served a wonderful breakfast around 9:30 am, and the hard working thinners really tucked in (Jimmy and I had breakfast too, but as we weren't working as hard, we naturally ate less). After breakfast the sun came out and the day heated up really quickly, and it was muggy too. There was only about an hour or so more to do, and once it was all done, we had a cold drink and went home with a token of appreciation (wine). We stopped in at Zest for coffee and a snack, exhausted but happy for the excursion.