Trust Your Knots, Trust Yourself: Vintage Part III

We made it. It’s over.

Well not really but Gerrit and I are peacing to Bali so basically.

It’s funny how life works out. Last fall I applied to jobs in Australia for about two weeks and then changed my mind. My plan was to stay and take winemaking classes at the local college, but the people at Jim Barry convinced me I’d learn just as much doing a harvest down under so away I went.

Getting here, it became very clear very fast how under-qualified I was compared to everyone else. These people had studied oenology, done vintages all over the world, and here I was: this little second harvest wannabe just trying to see what winemaking’s like somewhere else.

The first few weeks it wasn’t much of an issue, but once vintage got going it became painfully obvious. I had never worked with a tank that held more than 5 tons of fruit, and suddenly was surrounded by over 100 that held 60+. I didn’t know all the different types of pumps, what sparging meant or even how to push wine back into a tank with water. I had never even done a punch-down. And of course, I could not for the life of me get the damn knot.

There’s this one knot they call the winery knot or half-hitch that I could not get for weeks. I guess it was assumed that everyone already knew it, or would get it by seeing it done a time or two but for some reason I couldn’t. I couldn’t wrap my head around how one knot could keep a hose that weighed more than me tied to a steel bar 40 feet in the air, let alone how to make it.

Once we got to doing pump-overs it didn’t take long before Peter Barry himself stopped what he was doing to come chastise me. “Have you ever worked for a winery before? This is a universal knot. It’s easy,” he said as he made it himself around my hose.

I asked him to slow down and show me again, and he did, but it wasn’t until later I realized I still didn’t have it. He had only solved half of the puzzle and I still had no idea how to do the same knot around the railing. So I did the best I could for a few hours until he found me still struggling. “You do as you’re told,” he said as he tied the hose to the railing.

And suddenly, I had it. No more questions, no more hesitation. I could tie anything, anywhere, anytime and know it wouldn’t fall down. It was a miracle, and all it took was a few more demonstrations and a little fear for my life.

I still always hold my breath for a second when the hose fills with wine and my knots are tested, but they haven’t let me down yet. Because when you work hard until you get something right, you can trust yourself. You know what you’re capable of and you know how to get there. Just remember, you’re always stronger than you think.

This vintage was amazing and I am so proud of everyone I work with and all we have accomplished. To give you an idea of how intense it was, two years ago JB crushed around 1,300 tons and this year we crushed 2,800. It would not have been possible without everyone’s relentless commitment, and I am honored to have been a part of it.

Anyway thanks for the memories, South Australia. It’s been real.

Melbourne here we come!


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