“Sod the wine, I want to suck on the writing. This man White is an instinctive writer, bloody rare to find one who actually pulls it off, as in still gets a meaning across with concision. Sharp arbitrage of speed and risk, closest thing I can think of to Cicero’s ‘motus continuum animi.’

Probably takes a drink or two to connect like that: he literally paints his senses on the page.”

DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little, Ludmila’s Broken English, Lights Out In Wonderland ... Winner: Booker prize; Whitbread prize; Bollinger Wodehouse Everyman prize; James Joyce Award from the Literary & Historical Society of University College Dublin)





22 March 2015


Vintage 2015 being so sharp and fast and all, Jock and Tom Harvey, of Chalk Hill Wines, had a vineyard of good McLaren Vale Shiraz that they just didn't know what to do with. The winery was full, and as McLaren Vale's major contracting vineyard managers, they had much much bigger things to pick and sort for their clients.

So they got onto Andre Eikmeyer at Vinomofo, the zap city web wine vendors and Peter Fraser at Yangarra. Pete agreed to make the wine if the vineyard could be picked, local bottlers Torresans agreed to donate their bottling skills and Collotype agreed to produce the labels ... all gratis, so the profits could to go to Adelaide's Hutt Street Centre, which is a cash-strapped charity devoted to feeding, clothing and helping the city's homeless.

Pete and Andre pumped their social networks on Twitter and Facebook, and within three days the whole business was organised. They put out a call for volunteer pickers. 

The sun was barely over the range this morning and the shadows were still long when folks began to trickle in to the vineyard, which looked vast and insurmountable.

Little kids, grandmas, locals, foreigners. One dozen; two; three ... I heard an American lady saying she'd never picked grapes before and saw the details on the net and just had to come and try it, for the homeless. There were French, Germans: a genuine league of nations of all types and ages. And, of course, a good crop of enthusiastic locals.

Within an hour over ninety pickers had rocked in, undergone a quick lesson in the protocols of getting the job done efficiently, how to avoid cutting their fingers off with the snips and given their buckets and sent off into the rows to get onto it, following the tractors.

The local kids, who could have brushed all this off as everyday - like boring - seemed real happy showing newcomers the ropes. This little dude made friends with a stripey caterpillar. Folks learned agricultural stuff.

Families from all over stuck their noses to the winestone. Salopian Inn delivered pork buns and spring rolls, Vale Ale rocked in with a van full of perfectly chilled beer and the Chimmichuri Grill Food Truck drove in from Adelaide and made hamburgers, steak sandwiches and chips for the whole damn throng.

The giant Harvey lads with one of the families that happily gave their time, and even bought their own new buckets. The local hardware must have done crisp business - I've never seen more virgin picking snips anywhere.

Within two hours the job was done and dealt: about four tonnes of lovely Shiraz in the bins, ready to go off to Yangarra. Work to be done there, which I'll report here later in the week, but for everyone else, party time!

Then came the very happy bit: Andre got up and anounced that through the Vinomofo website, he'd sold $36,000 worth of the wine in advance and handed a king-sized cheque to Danielle Bayard, of the Hutt Street Centre. All this took four days!

That's grape donor Jock Harvey of Chalk Hill Wines, Yangarra GM and boss winemaker Peter Fraser, Hutt Street Centre's Danielle Bayard with her big cheque, and Andre Eikmeyer of Vinomofo. Done and dealt!

One vineyard of homeless grapes homeless no more, $36,000 to the human homeless of Adelaide, and a new generation of burgeoning viticulterers and winemakers on the rise:

all photographs by Philip White ... click any image to enlarge


impressed anon said...

Sold before picking!?! Sure beats the Bordeaux en primeur nonsense. Well done all.

BAZ said...

That's how to do it! Champ job everybody!

Anonymous said...

Such an amazing feat. Social media working for good. Well done to all involved! Amelie

Sal said...

Truly heart and soul-warming. Brilliant stuff. Hearty back-slaps to one and all.

Becky Hirst said...

Great write up! We were thrilled too to see so many local families getting involved. The kids loved it!

Anonymous said...

Ditto. What a remarkable feat. So the wine industry is finally learning how best to use the social media. Or is it such a good story that just for once, it worked? It would be interersting to find this out. In my experience most of the crap wine business posts is self-congratulatory nonsense, which must wear people out. TM

conny said...

I think I'll write in German because I write from Hamburg in Germany.
Gratulation zu dieser außergewöhnlichen humanitären Aktion. Es ist ein Spaß, die Bilder anzusehen, zumal auch meine Tochter auf ihnen zu sehen ist, die ich vor fast 1 Jahr das letzte mal sah. Es ist wunderbar, soviel soziales Engagement zu sehen. Der Wein wird bestimmt hervorragend - mit so viel Liebe produziert! !!!

Conny said...

Das muss ein Super-Wein werden, bei dem Arrangement und der Liebe, mit der er hergestellt wurde. Vielleicht werde ich ihn hier auf der anderen Seite der Welt in Hamburg (Deutschland)ebenfalls genießen können.

Athalia said...

I discovered your blog just as I was getting into wine seriously and learned a lot from your well written, humble and informative posts.