The End of the Wine
We've now finished working at the winery and after 8 weeks we managed to label approx 92,000 bottles of wine, so I thought it was time to update the blog with the very little that we have been up to in Essex, since Covid is still around for now and the current ongoing restrictions.
After our 10 days quarantine where we never really left the van apart from to stretch our legs, fill up with water and empty the toilet, it was good to be let free and the first things we did is visit the launderette and get a kebab on the way home as you do!
One thing about our stay there will never be forgotten though, the Guinea Fowl! There is flock of around 20 of them here, and as nice as they are, they don't half make some noise... it was that bad to start with I ordered more ear plugs, but as time went on, we had gotten used to them!
So we finally got to meet the staff here as the quarantine meant we could only stare out of the window at passers by. Lucy who was our contact for the job runs the labelling team, sales, does tastings/tours and pretty much everything else and is lovely and looked after us when we were 'locked up'.
Her partner Andy runs the vineyard, then there is Steve the winemaker along with his assistant Tim and then there are a few other girls in the office doing admin and various other maintenance/general workers. Then there is Becky who is the General Manager and her dad Chris is one of the business partners who owns the farm and they are all lovely and friendly.
A couple of days later we met the rest of our team who would be working alongside us.
Sam & Chrissy are like us, who have a nomadic lifestyle working events etc and were based in the Bristol area, and then we had Stefania who was from Romania who has been coming here to work for a few years, and her partner who also works on the vineyard most of the year.
Our job as Sadie briefly mentioned in her last blog, was to label wine bottles. So the 5 of us were working in a really beautiful old (and cold) barn, which is where most of the labelling was being done.
The winery has a scheme where it leases out rows of vines to customers, which is approx 300 leaseholders, who pay a small leasing fee and then they 'own' that row, and every harvest they get to pick a selection of wines at reduced prices, which varies from around 200-300 bottles, depending on how good the harvest is.
This scheme is popular, sells out quickly every year, and as part of the deal, they can pick either standard labels which are mostly done by machine, or they can select customised labels and have a selection of them on their wine bottles, which are all done by hand.
And that's what we are doing, putting on the custom labels, and this year they had a good harvest, so all got 294 bottles each to purchase which costs about £2.50 per bottle for example for the white wines, and a little bit more for the red/sparkling.
So as you can imagine, there are 300 or so leaseholders, each with 294 bottles to label giving a total of around 90k bottles to be done. Some of that is done by machine (but still needs 2 people to operate) and that was done mostly by a couple of friends of Lucy, whilst we concentrated on the hand labelling.
It's not the most exciting job, but we've had a great laugh doing it and it's not hard work, giving us a regular wage for 8 weeks too which helps offset the money we spent in Portugal over winter.
Our routine for the whole time here has been Mon-Fri work from 9-5 then usually off to the supermarket on Friday evening, or sometimes a Saturday morning. And then back either with a takeaway or to cook something quick for dinner.
The weekends also involved a fair bit of video chat with our friends due to the 6 Nations Rugby being on for the first month here, which was a regular Saturday day/night thing, and as expected with our large group of friends, never ended up an early night or without a hangover the next day!
Apart from that, we haven't been doing anything due to lockdown and everything being shut. We did manage to get to the pub the other week on a Friday after work to have some much needed pints and pub grub with some of the staff here which was nice, and also our friend came to visit us at the weekend with her dog and we went a short walk for a pint, and was lovely to see her again.
On our last Sunday I managed to get Donald up for the first time since arriving here, as I wanted to get some footage for the staff here, as of this week they are demolishing a main part of the winery and expanding it over the summer, hopefully finishing it before the all important harvest in September!
Oh and we had a wine tasting/tour on Thursday as a thank you, it was really interesting and despite me not even drinking wine, I managed to get drunk on it and have a hangover the next day.. well they did let us loose in the actual winery and showed us how the sample tap works!
So what's next? On Saturday we headed up north of Nuneaton, to see some friends who live on a narrow boat and spent the evening with them and attended an impromptu birthday party, which turned into another drunken late night and was great to see them and meet new friends.
Hopefully some events will get back happening soon, our calendar is slowly getting dates pencilled in and I am also awaiting some more dates in a new role I will be doing this summer.. more on that later 😀
Just need the Government to allow these to happen after June 21st and we can hopefully salvage some of the summer!
Take care x