01 May A Harvest Day at Destiny Bay, Waiheke Island, NZ
A 35 minute ferry ride from Auckland to Waiheke Island, we spent the morning at Destiny Bay, a small, single vineyard, family-owned winery that began in 2005. They specialize in estate grown and bottled blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, producing fewer than 2,500 cases per year of their three distinct blends: Magna Praemia, Mystae and Destinae.
We toured through the vineyards which are planted in a natural amphitheather. The beauty is beyond compare as the vines slope down toward the water. But, I was relieved that I didn’t have to help pick grapes that day. Destiny Bay is 100% hand harvested and with the steep slopes of the vineyard, that means that the pickers are walking up and down the hill carrying bins of grapes all day. It really is hard work!
While we didn’t have to help pick any grapes, we did head over to the destemmer to work the sorting line. First, the whole bunches are picked and put into bins which are stacked on the sorting machine line.
Grapes are released in small groups at a time, keeping a steady pace.
The grapes travel up to the destemmer where the stems are separated and fall thru the grates and the whole berries continue on to the sorting machine.
After the mechanical process of destemming, the grapes hit the sorting line and that is where the manual work is required. The grapes move along the rotating belt as we pick out any stems, bad grapes or even bugs that pass by.
It was like working in an “I Love Lucy” episode as our heads moved from left to right and then back again and again, trying to spot small items that don’t belong. We worked the sorting line for a half hour and that was plenty for me. I was actually so dizzy that I couldn’t have done it for any longer.
Once the dizziness wore off, we went to check out the already fermenting juice from grapes picked a few days earlier. Instead of punching down like the other wineries I visited, Destiny Bay uses a pump over method in which the juice from the bottom of the tanks is pumped over using a hose (as opposed to plunging from the top down).
Getting to visit wineries during harvest is a great experience. Not only do you get to see the winemaking process in action but you also get to see the different processes from one winery to another in order to make the best wines possible.