Emerging from the fog

Trip Start Nov 30, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Tuesday, May 1, 2007

I have finally completed a gruelling six weeks of wine harvest work in the heart of the Marlborough wine region in New Zealand's south island. I know to many of you it felt like I fell off the face of the earth, which I kind of did. I was working twelve hours, seven days a week, and the time I did have in between shifts was spent sleeping and eating and winning trivia contests at local pubs. The winery I worked at is called Kim Crawford Wines, which was recently purchased by Constellation Group, the largest wine & spirits company on the planet. As a result, working at Kim Crawford was in many ways quite different from working at a small winery in Walla Walla. Kim Crawford is a wine factory. Trucks hauling ten tons of machine-harvested grapes arrive 24 hours a day during the peak of grapes. The trucks then dump the grapes into giant hydraulic tubs called hoppers that push them through into a crusher and destemmer, then off through hundreds of feet of line into presses or tanks. I could single-handedly crush ten tons of grapes in about 20-25 minutes. Most days were spent doing the usual winery work managing the tanks and barrels and doing my fair share of cleaning up. For the most part, the work wasn't very stimulating and it felt more like I was working in a factory rather than a winery. Luckily, all of the international staff provided me with plenty of entertainment and I made some great friends over the last few weeks.
On the rare day off that came towards the end of the grape harvest, I got the chance to do some great hikes around the northern part of the south island. Without a doubt, New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever been to. I'll post some pictures and you can see for yourself.
This Friday I am flying to Australia to spend a month seeing what it's like on the ''other side'' before I fly back to New Zealand in early June to travel more extensively with my brothers.
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