The week kicked off with a rather important meeting about the running of the winery, which we have now used for the past two seasons. Wine making is much more technical than you may imagine (Parts per million – yeast and enzyme selections – fermentations – S02 Calculation – MLF and more) and our grapes are very precious to us as they are literally irreplaceable if any errors occur – so as is to be expected, this element of our venture has been a huge (and fairly stressful) learning curve for us all. Alice is currently chief technical and quality control, while Tom heads up the practical running of all the equipment and Cam and I pitch in as and where we can to help –for a team of two farmers, a schoolteacher, a joiner, and a postgrad –so far think we have done a pretty good job. We’re very lucky that this strategy has seen us through these last two years, but as LWV expands and crop continues to increase with each year, we’re always aware we need to continue to improve and develop our systems. Our Monday meeting was all about reflecting on what had worked well, improvements and new ideas for 2024. Fortunately, we’re all pretty chock full of ideas, and so going forward we’re going to try some new things to help us make the winery the best it can be.
Ever had one of those weeks that feels a little bit like everything is working against you? Well, that’s been my week. Cold weather, that persistent cough we’ve all been warned of but assume we don’t really have, and software that is just. Not. Straightforward. But otherwise, it’s been quite a productive week at LWV, in spite of the snow and ice – I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, no one knows how to persist quite like a member of LWV.
Part of these improvements includes experimenting with software to help us track and analyse our work, both in the field and the winery. Most large-scale wineries have some form of software to help with that, but our scale of production didn’t seem to warrant such tools in year one or two, but with year three pending and our hector litres growing we have decided it is time to take this step. Fortunately for us, free trials are a thing and according to our wine friends, Vintrace and Innovint are two of the better options out there (and with price tags like that – they better!). Alice has tasked Cam and I to experiment with the ones available to see which are most user friendly. Cam is playing around with Vinsight, although so far all we’ve discovered is that there is a lot of information that we need to a) find and b) input, before the software can work to its maximum effect.
On the events front, we’ve got a rather exciting week, with a wedding on Thursday (I am actually writing this on Thursday, so congratulations to the happy couple, I imagine the snow will make for some beautiful wedding photos!!). It’s sometimes quite amazing to us at Little Wold that winter events exist, given that once upon a time we were just a marquee and a grass car park. Look at how far we’ve come. This weekend we also have our fab team of LWV volunteers coming up to the Tasting Room for the Volunteer’s Lunch. These people are an extension of our Little Wold family, a collection of wonderful people who have been known to turn up in all weather conditions with enough enthusiasm to push us over finish lines. Just this last season, the volunteers cleared all the rondo from the Tasting Room Block within one day – a task we had assumed would take at least two. You can’t tell me these people aren’t superhuman on some level, because that kind of effort is extraordinary. So this Sunday we’re holding a little get together for them, because they very clearly deserve it, and we love any excuse to talk all things wine with people who also love all things wine. Does this sound like something you’d be interested in joining? Feel free to ask one of our members of staff on Cellar Door days (Fridays and Sundays) if you happen to be in the area, or message us on Facebook or Instagram. There’s no complicated way to join really, just turn up with some weather appropriate clothes and a can-do attitude and you’ll blend right in with the rest of us.
To round off this week’s blog, I’m introducing a new segment I’d like to call: Cam on Cam. Undeterred by freezing temperatures, angry storms or vicious winds, our Cam can pretty much always be found outside when he’s at work. He’s also pretty good with a camera, and if you haven’t pieced together the pun yet then let me go one step further – this is going to be a rolling series where I take one of Cam’s CAM-era photos and we do a little dive into the context of it. This week is this shot from Mount Airy. While we do have around two acres of vines on this site, the rest of the field is left as part of our efforts to maintain biodiversity (with some occasional maintenance from Tom). Although the side of the valley which holds the majority of our vines has the perfect position for the sun all year round, I would argue that Mount Airy has the best sunsets – as is evidenced by Cam’s fab photo. When I asked Cam about the photo, he said it reminded him of something he’d heard a while ago: ‘sunset is my favourite colour, sunrise is my second.’ The quote belongs to poet Mattie J T Stepanek, who died at the age thirteen, but had published seven poetry collections and essays on peace. Stepanek had a rare disorder called dysautonomic mitochondrial myopathy, which also killed all three of his older siblings; however, it’s evident that Stepanek would not allow his illness to limit him, his wish being to be remembered as, ‘a poet, a peacemaker, and a philosopher who played.’ With words as beautiful as these, I find it hard to imagine a world that could ever forget a boy so pure.