~ Grapes & Wine ~
I've begun to feel a bit restless. Now that I've been here for a few weeks, I know the staff and their significant others, including many of the neighbors who end up at the local bar for fish and chips (that's french fries to us) every Friday. It's just after lunch on the 16th. I informed John on Sunday (the 14th) that I'll be leaving at the end of the week. He said that I've done more than my share of the work and that I'm welcome to return if he doesn't already have somebody staying here. Upon my departure from the farm, I intend to stay a day or two in Amberley (the town where John lives) before hiking through Christchurch in quest to find the most scenic and least expensive route to the Stewart Island ferry. Absolutely nobody has been to Stewart Island but all of my books stress that there are many well kept tramping routes. If it begins to look like that leg of my journey isn't worthwhile, I'll change my plans accordingly. I haven't spoken to the hot springs resort for a couple of weeks. I'll call them again soon to check for openings.
I drove the tractor for the first time today. From the start, I've said that I'm not mechanically inclined. At least, I don't really have previous skills for fixing machinery when it breaks down. However, it seems that I can still be of use. Perhaps I'll be spraying the vinyard or tilling the fields next.
For two days now I've been working in a crew to remove "water shoots" from the grape vines. Water shoots, as describe in the Oxford Dictionary of Wines, grow from the vines but don't actually bear fruit. This process is called "toe nailing" and unless you're blessed by a singular attraction to grape vines, it's very tedious work. My co-workers are predominantly adults from the surrounding community. Since John doesn't have any steady employees for crop maintenance, he hires freelance workers on a need basis.
I've had the honour of visiting the winery for only brief periods to place/deliver orders since my arrival. Yesterday however, John received an urgent distress call from one of his northern island distributors pleading for 2 palettes (1344 bottles) of Wiapura red and white. After helping John to organize a spur of the moment crew, three Glenmark Wine totellers and I set about capping, labelling, and boxing the order for immediate shipment. The reality of this job wasn't quite as marvelous as it sounds.
I've finished two more books...Dinner at Antoine's, by Frances Parkinson Keyes (first romantic mystery in a while), and another thriller (compulsively gripping and entirely worthless). I just did what will probably be my last load of laundry for a week or two (depending on where I end up after leaving here). It has become rather tedious spending a majority of my time on the farm. I'll be glad to amble on down the road.