More and more valves are being left open on our tanks, yet no wine is escaping.
Can you solve the riddle?
It’s because……… they are empty.
Harvest must be approaching.
One Team One Vision is what we’re all about at New Zealand Wineries, it's one of our company mottos and we see this written phrase every day.
And as one team, we have a vision to make the lead up to harvest as smooth as possible.
Think of this lead up to harvest a bit like painting a house.
Applying undercoat is not the most exciting job, especially when all you want to do is slap on the colour.
But we all know it’s the undercoat that guarantees a better job overall, ensuring a smooth finish and a top quality product.
To a winery, this undercoat is striving for sufficient tanks and barrel space for juice, and a tidy ordered winery, all in time for harvest.
So we’re aiming for around mid-March.
And it is team work that will get us there.
It’s a fascinating time of year in terms of the winemaking process.
Within our team on a daily basis we have cellar notes ranging from racking Pinot Noir off lees, to stabilising Chardonnay, to preparing and degassing Sauvignon Blanc for bottling and dispatch.
It’s been a busy 2015 so far at NZW, to say the least.
And with January already ripped off the calendar, harvest is now ‘next month.’
Getting wine out, tanks emptied and clean, and barrels emptied and sulphured takes team work. So does establishing structured daily routines such as cleaning and putting away, tidy and ordered storage areas, equipment racks and a dry goods room. This means allocating jobs smartly to everyone in the winery, sharing and handing over jobs when needed, and strong communication lines.
Speaking of communication, we’ve all started wearing walkie talkie radios, and it sure does make life so much easier! It takes just a couple of seconds to request a sign off, query a job, or ask for help.
Our daily morning meetings are often a colourful few minutes of ideas being shared, issues being raised, and solutions suggested. Although some may seem trivial, they all add up to make our day smoother.
For example, the smooth hand-over of jobs over as shifts swap, having different coloured buckets for different jobs, tidying up properly, and double-checking each other’s work.
Work place safety has been a massive focus at NZW lately too. There has been a huge push to not be embarrassed about reporting our ‘near misses’ like nearly walking into tank doors, or seemingly minor incidences like cut fingers.
From obvious improvements like safety grates on the top of open fermenters, to small improvements like warning your work mates of a sharp tank lid, it all adds up to make a safe and happy work place.
Sharing all these ideas keep us honest, maintains our enthusiasm and increases our work pride.
Work pride is contagious, and next month we will be sharing it with around 75 or 80 new faces at NZW who will be here for harvest.
From all corners of the globe, each with their own wine journey to share, they will be eager to learn how we crush grapes and make wine.
This takes us back to the undercoat analogy.
As one team right now we are creating the undercoat for a wonderful harvest.
Our crew will have structures in place which enable us to easily share our daily systems and routines come harvest, and deliver it with a sense of pride.
Although winemaking is a science, harvest is really left in the lap of the Gods.
It’s common knowledge that the 2015 harvest will see less fruit than last year, although so far it’s predicted to be top quality.
It’s a bit of a case of Murphy’s Law here at NZW because we have just had a few new tanks installed, and some may in fact not see grape juice this year.
But such is the way when you combine nature with human skill.
What is a given is that the barrel halls are nearly bare, more and more tanks are being emptied for the last time, and the first very unripe grape bunches have been sighted in the winery.
We know busy times are ahead.
It’s time to finish applying the undercoat, and wait for the colouring to begin.