Summer Work Summary

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Rainbow over Central Otago vineyard

During the Christmas break and summer holidays I worked for Vinewise. They are a vineyard management company who focus on using organic and bio-dynamic techniques. I was put with a group of regular employees who have a lot of experience as well as some other summer workers who were short-term and inexperienced like me. Unlike me, most of the short term workers had no interest in vineyards other than their weekly pay check, so I took advantage of the regulars time and asked lots of questions. I really learnt a lot. My supervisor was great and went out of his way to give me different tasks so I could gain experience, which also kept it interesting. I also found it interesting going to lot of different vineyards, everyone does things slightly differently.

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Meet Artemis – one of the cows at Domain Thompson, bio-dynamic vineyard

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Over the few months I had with Vinewise I have had experience:

Shoot thinning
Wire lifting
Straightening, tucking and clipping vines
Leaf/lateral plucking
Fruit thinning
Checking for powdery mildew
Taking leaf samples
Helping to make bio-dynamic preparations

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Bio-dynamic shed at Domain Thompson

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Sunrise at the vineyard. Bio-dynamic preparation 501 starts early!

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Dreaded powdery mildew

Considering it was supposed to be summer, the weather has been terrible! There were lots of cold, windy, rainy days. Not great for growing grapes. Quite a few of the vineyards I worked at ended up with wind damage and powdery mildew. I have heard several people say this has been the worst summer in Central Otago for many years. Helicopters were a common sight around Cromwell, desperately trying to dry the cherries. Hopefully this means we will end up with a late summer.

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Fresh snow on the hills – in summer! (It didn’t hang around long though)

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Grapes starting to ripen

I didn’t get up to much gardening at home over the holidays but that didn’t stop our apricot tree from coming out in full force! We have so many we don’t know what to do with them all. The only other interesting bits in the garden are the tomatoes and lettuces I got from the Polytech plant sale, they have done really well. The strawberry plant was a total failure (not from Polytech sale), only one strawberry! Not sure what went wrong there…good thing I’m heading back to class…

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Apricot tree at home

 

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