Each harvest creates a colourful collision of worlds, cultures, and wine industry methods and lessons.
In March the selected harvest crew for New Zealand Wineries came on board, hailing from all corners of the globe.
Personality similarities and cultural differences, personality differences and cultural similarities, all created the melting pot for the time of year we simultaneously live for and dread.
As mentioned in a previous blog, last year at NZW we were delivered a seminar exposing us to the idea that our individual behaviour’s force us to display a particular bird trait; hawks, doves, eagles or peacocks.
To put it more specifically; the detail-loving owl, the gentle dove, the swooping hawk, and the energetic peacock.
During harvest it was important to remember when we were presented with a brand new group of people that the quietest person in the group did not necessarily have the least ideas or knowledge, nor did the seemingly confident person know the most.
Identifying the finer traits of each individual and placing them in the role to best suited them, thus oiling the cogs of the harvest machine.
Providing clear instructions for each task, teaming people up together to seek time efficiency and self-confidence, stating expectations for work place cleanliness and daily routines… all these steps helped everyone gel together.. despite bird type or where they hailed from on the globe!
It was often during the straight forward tasks like plunging, or setting up lines where the opportunity to learn about each other arose.
During these moments it was always great to hear stories about previous harvests work mates had experienced, from huge and famous places throughout Australia and The United States, to speciality wineries dotted around Europe, to the smallest winery in Israel.
And amusing banter developed from asking about preconceived ideas of New Zealand, Marlborough, and our wine industry.
Comments like ‘lots of Sauvignon Blanc’, ‘your country is beautiful’, and ‘everyone is so friendly’ were regular remarks that passed the lips of many cultures.
Social catch ups outside shift work were a big part of harvest, where solid friendships formed and much learning took place.
With this, work flow began to self- establish, as an organic and continually moving structure of knowledge, skill and enthusiasm filtered throughout the winery.
The satisfaction of observing the great team work, smiles and laughter, and the continual eagerness to learn and work hard never waned.
The end of harvest always means a quick reduction in staff.
Being such a big team at NZW, it can be difficult to get to know everyone during the busy period.
That’s just part of the beast of harvest, and a way of life we’ve all become accustomed to.
On the other hand, for the staff who stay on for a few weeks after harvest, there is the opportunity to explore beyond the generic hardy work attire and steel cap boots. We discover other talents such as guitar playing, beanie making, and wonderful culinary skills.
Regardless of where in the world we’re all from, or what bird trait we display, the humble grape creates a unique cultural experience for each of us.