Continuing on the how not to make wine theme, there is a point beyond which there is no return: the harvesting. The skies threatened rain on September 16, and so it was with heavy heart that I accepted Fernando’s offer of a wine press in order to get the job done. I tossed and turned in the night at the prospect of heavy work and rose at 6am, four hours before there is much wasp activity.
I put on the protective clothing suitable for cleaning up after murders or hunting stolen anthrax, and was hot, even at 7am. I wore Jungle Formula, had a can of wasp spray under my belt. Clippers, sacks, and a wheelbarrow were assembled at the edge of the vine jungle and with grim determination I dropped to a crawl and set off down the first row.
It turns out most of the wasps had gone (where, I do not know) although a few were hiding inside the bunches. Over a period of about five hours I picked 10 large sacks of grapes. Some of the grapes were huge – press your thumb and forefinger together and a grape would not fit through the gap. I ate several kilos and began to feel a little bilious.
After growing weary of harvesting, a rest was called for. But the grapes now needed to be pressed. The horseback chimney sweep commander said I should have spread the grapes out in the sun and left them for three days to dry and sweeten before pressing them. However, a few weeks ago I was mesmerised at the farm one balmy night by the sight of country rats trotting briskly back and forth between the vineyard and the outhouse behind my oblivious dinner guests. I didn’t think it would take these rats long to discover where the grapes had gone. So the only thing to do was to press on. Pun intended.