Back in 2004 I wanted nothing else but to leave New Zealand …
I HATED my life there, and felt like I wanted to leave everything behind and go as far away as I could, but before I could do so, I needed to get enough money to buy a plane ticket out of there.
So I got a job at a vineyard working 12 hour night-shifts every day for 8 weeks, making 12 dollars an hour.
It’s not the best place to work if you want to save money for a round the world trip, since it’s a pretty crazy job BUT if you like wine – you will love working there…
Working in a vineyard you learn so much about wine, and realize that wine is not just a drink, but something more.
The progress from picking the grapes to the finished product is a long, dangerous journey - and you truly get a whole new perspective on how wine is made, finding out many things you really don’t want to know.
I never thought that wine could be such a scientific process, and yes, I screwed up more than just a couple of times…
One night at 3am I had to go on top of a 15 meter high wine vat and pour over 20 kg of sugar inside to help the fermentation process.
At the time, I was sh*t scared of heights, but I was the new guy so I had to get up there and do it. I poured the huge bucket of sugar in as fast as I could so I could get down faster.
Little did I know that if you pour it slightly too fast, the sugar will react with the wine and can explode – spraying wine everywhere!
I turned around, and suddenly heard a loud rumbling noise from inside the vat - the whole thing exploded over my head, drenched me in wine and covered the guys 15 meters below – I had wasted 50+ liters of wine all over the ground in under 2 minutes… :S
Working there I drank more wine than water, not while working, but whenever we had finished we could basically drink as much wine as we wanted from all over the world.
A few of my favorite international wines were Chateau La Lagune from France and the Innocent Bysander wines from Australia.
We joined the official wine tours and got to taste and compare different wines, all from the cheapest wine to one of the world’s most expensive (which for the record tasted like sh*t, all the money was spent on the gold label).
We learned that good wine doesn’t have to be expensive, and that expensive wine doesn’t have to be good.
When the season was over, we were all given 12 big bottles of wine, which we by that time had learned how to finish pretty fast.
I left with not only enough money to buy my ticket to Europe, but with a new interest for wine, something which I had never paid much attention to before.
Wine tasting and wine tours are often something of a luxury event, but in New Zealand and Australia it’s actually really affordable, and many vineyards (although not the dodgy one I worked at) let you see the whole process of how wine is made.
So if you want to do something slightly different on your next trip to Australia or New Zealand, visit a vineyard – it really is a great experience!
(photo credits: 1)