GREENWAY WINES are a family run vineyard producing handcrafted, small batch wines. Their wines are made from 100% estate grown fruit, nurtured using sustainable farming practices. Anne and John are passionate and dedicated to the making their wines, only bottling when the vintage is at its best, producing limited releases each year, and can ONLY be sourced at their cellar door or via their web site.
As a member of this winery, our daughter received an invitation to join the owners to hand pick the grapes that would make the Fiano wines. We just happened to be staying up with her around this time so she suggested it might be fun to go with her. We jumped at the chance, and she was not wrong!
Arriving at 6am, armed with gloves and pruning shears, we were met by Anne who walked us to the vines to be picked. Due to the heavy rains the week before, some of the densely packed green grapes had become smushy and needed to be removed before being tossed into the buckets. We were also not to include too much stem or any leaves as this would change the flavour of the product.
It was an extremely hot, sunny day with no breeze at all and no shade in a flat landscape encircled by Brokenback Mountain Ranges and Wollembi Brook, the most beautiful setting. We watched the sunrise as we began clipping the grapes from the vines, pulling the squishy grapes and the grapes eaten by the birds and roos off the clumps of fruit, only to have them squirt their fermented juices all down the front of our clothes. The smell was overwhelming and everything; shirt, jeans, shoes, gloves, and clippers became soaked in sticky sweet, fermented juices with the hot sun spreading the smell more intensely.
Hand picking grapes is a hard, arduous job, especially with the heat of the sun blazing on you hour after hour, but once you start, they all must be picked in the day to be processed together so there is no stopping. Anne had decided to hand pick these grapes as it had been a bad season last year and their crop this year was abundant and machine picking loses too many grapes to the ground. Such a waste! These green grapes are sweet, firm, and delicious, and as the vines are at waist to head height fairly easy on the back to pick.
We broke for lunch around 1.30pm as Anne was providing a delicious picnic lunch with dessert as payment for our labour. Grateful for a seat in the shade and clean, non-sticky hands and a toilet break, we sat chatting while we enjoyed our yummy lunch of quiche tarts, potato salad, quinoa salad, beetroot and feta salad, mushroom pate followed by cherry ripe fudge, a chocolate brownie, and a huge strawberry. Far too much to finish so we took the rest home for our dinner, fortunately, as we were just too tired and sore to do anything but shower.
We returned to the field to continue picking the grapes and left about 3.30pm while the paid pickers finished their job around 4.30pm. So, we obviously got them through their picking much more quickly than they would have done without us. Tired, hurting and smelling like old winos we drove our weary bodies back home for a well-deserved cup of tea after shower and clean clothes. Soaking our grape-picking clothes in the tub to be washed tomorrow. Even our socks were completely grape juice soaked!
The car reeked of fermented grapes for weeks after our return but what an amazing experience it was!
I would not hesitate to join in hand picking of grapes again as it is too much fun while you talk and you work with people on both sides of the vines.
So, if you are sipping on a Fiano, think of us as it could contain the grapes, we picked that hot day in March 2021.