And so it begins...  Another vintage is finally underway.  This one, 2012, is particularly special here at All Saints.  Not only have the weather gods been smiling upon us (so far that is, and touching every bit of wood within reach), but this is the first year that we are also making all of our white wines on the estate.  A lovely Italian press has arrived (in proper winemaking tradition a mere day before the first pick), tanks have been installed and lots of other shiny new equipment put in place.  Yesterday we picked Chardonnay from the block at All Saints, tomorrow we pick at St Leonards.  
 
The new press is brilliant.  It is a modified version of a standard air bag model.  Essentially, a press is like a giant sieve.  Imagine you are cooking a stock; after simmering you sieve out all the vegetables and give them a squeeze with a wooden spoon to get the last of the juices out.  A press is just like that, only in this case it is in the form of a cylinder with sieve plates against one half and a rubberised membrane sucked hard against the other half.  Fill the press with grapes, shut the door and pump compressed air in behind the membrane.  This squishes the grapes against the sieve wall and gently presses out the juice.  Being Italian, the manual is a translation and is an absolute classic of the genre.   I  am sorry to say that I may have made quite inappropriate comments about an entire nation of people as a result and I would like to take this opportunity to make an unreserved apology.  One thing is certain, I'll never whinge about Ikea assembly instructions again...
 
Talking of hissy-fits, the harvester has chucked a couple of beauties, and we have only just started.  Misaligned beater rods have conspired to beat the living daylights out of the machine rather than gently shake the vines.  The downside is that the harvester will be out of commission for a few days, the upside is that it presents a reminder of what wonderful people work in this industry.  A team from a local winery is coming over tomorrow morning to pick our Chardonnay with their machine.  We might be competitors the rest of the time, but vintage is vintage and everyone mucks in.