Sat, 01 Apr 2006
The Annual Pilgrimage // at 23:59
Each year Jo and I head down to Red Hill to help with the harvest at the Duke Vineyard, owned by her uncle and aunt. This year was no different, just a little later than other years due to vaguaries of grape varieties and ripening.
Number one problem was getting out of bed; even harder than usual for a Saturday morning, last night we'd been out to the Goat brewery, dinner in Victoria street, coffee in Brunswick street, then off to see Mick Thomas and Nick Barker at the Rainbow hotel. The end result of all that was not getting to bed until 2am and a very rude awakening in the dark by the alarm clock. Somehow we did manage to get up and get going though!
We made it down to the vineyard by half-past nine, probably the earliest we've ever arrived! Unlike previous years, today was almost the last of the harvest, three rows of incredibly dense Pinot, thick with leaves, and with leaves and grapes the same colour!
Half a day's solid work, some of the patches of vines so dense that we filled entire bins with grapes without moving from one spot. Spiders, leaves, stems and the odd mouldy grape all hopefully discarded, the rest dropped in the tub for Geoff to collect on the near-antique of a tractor that somehow my father-in-law keeps running with judicious applications of engineering and inventiveness.
Following the picking is the main event of the day — lunch. Each year Sue outdoes herself to produce magnificent bowls of thick tomato soup and seemingly endless supplies of salads and other foods. Of course these are always accompanied by a glass or two of the previous years' vintages, otherwise why else would we keep turning up....