Temperamental Forklifts

One of the two forklifts at the winery is a bit tricky. Both the forklifts are powered by compressed natural gas, so they’re a bit louder than the electric ones, and one of them (the yellow one) stalls if the revs get too low. This can be especially frustrating when you’re in a tight space like the barrel hall and you’re trying to maneuver the thing backwards without knocking into anything (aka slowly and carefully). It also can be a bit of a pain to start. Our winemaker insists she just needs a bit of coaxing, especially first thing in the morning.

I got my NZ forklift certification on Wednesday and since then I’ve been spending a fair bit of time on both the forklifts, as well as sorting fruit, cleaning and sulfuring barrels, cleaning tanks, and running lab work. Harvest has officially started.


The sorting table here is off the ground, so we tip the fruit onto it using the big orange forklift, then use a rake to bring the fruit down in a single layer. At the bottom of the table, it goes through a destemmer and then into bins. The bins are sulfured and moved into a chiller to cool down before being taken inside and tipped into a tank.


Yesterday I spent some time sulfuring barrels, which involves lighting quite a pretty piece of paper on fire and putting it into the barrel to burn.


They look a bit like incense, but don’t be fooled. These guys pack a punch. Don’t worry, Mom–I was wearing proper safety gear.


I’ve been getting some good runs in while I’m here. It’s really a beautiful country. I’m also starting to make some two-legged friends, as well as a few more four-legged ones. Since I didn’t have a picture of the other winery dog, Bede, to include in my last post, here’s a gratuitous cute dog shot:


That’s all for now! Enjoy this picture that I took while out for a morning run day before yesterday.



Four Legged Friends

I’ve often found it easier to make friends of the four legged persuasion rather than the two legged. I’ve made several of these sorts of acquaintances since I’ve arrived in New Zealand.

First there was Oliver (Ollie), the cat belonging to the Winemaker I’m working for here in New Zealand. I met him when I got in late Saturday night.


On Sunday I got settled into my accommodations here in town. I’m staying with a lovely woman named Marquita who has a fabulous cat named Gypsy. Gypsy has decided that we’re friends and has taken to grooming me when she gets a chance. She’s currently watching me type this.


I started at the winery on Monday and so far I’m really enjoying it. Everyone I work with is great and although there are a few things to get used to (such as the fittings–no triclovers here!), I think it’s going to be a good fit.

One of the perks of the job is that we have our own commercial espresso machine for harvest. My first orientation to the winery was learning how to use it. By the time I get back to the states I’ll be a full fledged barista!


And yes, there are four legged friends at the winery as well. This is Winston:


Still working on making friends of the two-legged variety. One of these evenings I plan on venturing into town to have a drink at the local pub and hopefully meet some people. Until then, at least I have a cat to snuggle.


One thing you don’t generally think about when you’re traveling: luggage allowances vary dramatically. I had to do some clever repacking when I got to the Sydney airport yesterday. Luckily I made it on the plane with all my stuff.

Unfortunately, once on the plane the captain informed us that a thunderstorm had begun and the whole airport was shut down. We were on the Tarmac for about 40 minutes before we took off. Yikes!

I didn’t mention this about my flight over, but I was reminded of on my flight to NZ how impressed I was with the airplane food on Qantas. They give you two choices, it’s edible, they have actual glass cups, and they offer wine, beer, and spirits complimentary along with the soft drinks. Plus, they served dinner on my flight to Martinborough even though it was only 2.5 hours. Awesome.

I got through customs and the winemaker for Martinborough Vineyard, Paul, was waiting for me at the gate. I got to meet his wife and kids right off the bat as we’ll since it turns out they’d been at a party in Wellington that night. The kids had made me a very sweet sign (that got left at home, but I got to see it when we got back to Martinborough.)


They were kind enough to let me stay at their house for the night since it was so late, so I will be seeing the place I’ll be staying for the duration later today. For now, I’ve had a cup of tea and some toast with Marmite and I’m experiencing the wonders of Kiwi kids tv. Verdict: just as crazy as American kids TV.

Sydney in 36 Hours

Sydney is a beautiful city! I made the most of my time here, but I’d love to come back sometime and get to experience it with Kris.

My flight got in Friday, March 14 at 8:30 am local time. The first order of business was convincing customs not to charge me for the 1/2 case of wine I’m bringing to NZ. I succeeded thanks to a copy of my itinerary and a very kind customs agent.

Next up, I needed to stash my luggage, since I just needed my carry on and didn’t want to bring the rest into the city with me. After wandering around a bit, I found a set of lockers and got that sorted. An Australian SIM card for my cell and a couple of texts to let everyone know I had arrived safely and I was on my way into the city.

Sydney airport is only about 20 minutes from the city center, so it’s quite convenient. I got to my hostel near Kings Cross (basically the Times Square of Sydney), changed my clothes and stowed my bags, then went off to explore.

First stop: The Botanic Gardens. Sydney has a lovely garden, free to the public and well worth a stroll. They have signs everywhere that say things like “Please walk on the grass! These are your gardens and we want you to enjoy them!”

From the gardens, I got my first view of Circular Quay and the iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge:


I walked over there and took the obligatory selfie:


I then hopped on a ferry and headed over to Manly Beach. It was a gorgeous day and you couldn’t beat the views on the way over.



Manly itself was beautiful as well. I took a stroll along the water:


then headed to the local microbrewery to get some lunch (and by lunch I mean beer). This was my first real introduction into how expensive Sydney is–about twice as much as Portland! It was $9.50 for a pint of beer or $15 for the sampler!


After lunch I headed back to the hostel and cleaned up a bit, then met family friends Larry and Simon for dinner over in Newtown. They were so hospitable and we had a lovely time at dinner. Unfortunately, I am the worst so I forgot to document the moment.

I crashed about 9:30 and apparently missed quite the happening bar scene in Kings Cross. One girl in my dorm was just getting back as I was getting ready to go around 6:30 this morning.

Today I headed over to Bondi to experience the most famous beach in the world. I took a quick detour to experience the Sydney coffee scene and the “flat white” made me miss my coffee dates at Barista with Kris:


Bondi was gorgeous! They have a trail that runs all along the coastline so I took a few hours to go hiking and it was well worth it–just stunning.




After that I swam a bit (don’t worry, Mom, I didn’t get sunburned) and headed back to Sydney to get my stuff together and head to the airport. My flight is boarding in a few minutes, so my next post will be from New Zealand.


Day One

As promised to several of you, I’ll be updating with the goings on while I’m down under. Sorry blog that I abandoned! Looks like you’ll be getting some use after all.

Thoughts from the plane…

This is absolutely the longest flight I’ve ever been on.

I left Portland yesterday morning with a tearful goodbye to Kris at the airport and spent a lovely afternoon with my parents in Los Angeles. I got to go say hi to Pam and many of my former coworkers at Fox then have a lovely farewell dinner with my godfather. He insisted on a selfie.

My flight left LAX at 11:55 pm, which means we started boarding at 11:10. It’s amazing how many people can fit on a 747. Also amazing that they can keep it in the air for nearly 15 hours.

I managed to stay up for the first 4 hours or so of the flight then get some decent sleep, so I feel pretty well adjusted to Sydney time. Really, the only down side is that the in seat headphones only worked on the right side. Kris, thank you for setting my iPad up with movies. It was a huge help.

I still have a lot of unknowns about where I’ll be staying once I get to NZ tomorrow, but I’m going with the “I’ll figure it out” mentality, which has always worked for me in the past. Right now I’m more concerned with getting the Australian customs agents to not charge me duty on the wine I’m bringing to NZ. We’ll see it they have mercy.

I miss everyone at home already, but I’m excited for my big adventure down under. Cheers, mates!