Category Archives: General

Harvest 2007

Well, the 2007 wine grape harvest is on in earnest – at least a month earlier than last year. As I write, the guys are out there pulling the fruit off the vines.

Most of the harvesting is done at night away from the hotter parts of the day. Apparently it results in better fruit. There are two harvesters running, well there’s suppose to be two – one just blew a hydraulic hose and pumped a vat full of oil… they guys are n ow wonering what to do…

The harvester is an amazing machine – narrow enough to fit between the vines and strangely quite agile. The vines go between wheels – right up the middle. There are two walls of plastic pipes on either side which vibrate very powerfully. This shakes the fruit off the vines which lands on a conveyor belt and then is pumped out over the top in hose into a vat pulled by a tractor. It’s rather a ballet when you see it – the harvesters are really experienced with the whole operation and it really does flow rather elegantly. In fact I know one of the tractor drivers – he reads a book while he’s doing the whole thing – that’s how fluid the operation is. Amazing.

Each vat has about 2.5 tonnes of fruit and by-catch in it – and there’s a lot of vats! The juice is extremely sweet – too sweet to drink straight – and I think I mentioned that the variety is Pinot Gris

Woodwork #2

I’ve been working on a new box – something I’ve been calling my “Swear Box” – since it has seemed to become the repository of a fair amount of mental anguish on my part.

It’s a basic hinged box with a veneered lid and base. The lid is 6mm MDF with a blackwood iron-on veneer bottom (from Otto’s) and a Huon Pine veener top – in which I cut and placed a rather nice elliptical inlay.

Why The “Swear Box” – well basically the timber came straight from the furnaces of Hell – it was reasonably figured – very attractive – however it soon became apparent that it was very unstable – you cut it, it warps; you plane it, it warps; you put it down nice and square, a week later it’s a rocking horse.

Deep breath, throw it in the jig and cut the dove tails – God knows if it will mate up afterwards. Well, it did after a fashion – it wasn’t a great match up but hey, it could be made to.

OK – glue that puppy up and see where we’re at.

Reasonable but a lot of massaging to do – the joints need finishing; the base needs squaring; a fair bit of sanding, the usual sort of messing around.

OK – deadline pproaches – Leanne’s birthday – don’t get worried – see what we can do…

To be honest – it looks great – I love the way the Red Gum finished – a beautiful deep red, with the front a very special figure indeed – lovely colour and an interesting defect to highlight the wood. The lid also looks nice – the golden yellow of the Huon Pine matches the red of the Red Gum just superbly. The disappointments are in the details – the joints aren’t as well cut as they could be, warping wood not withstanding; I rushed the hinges in the lid – causing the lid not to sit perfectly – fixable when I recover the will to do it. The inlay in the veneer is a rather tricky skill that I’m still developing – precision cutting and gluing is required – and I do mean precision – a small fraction of a millimieter defect is highly noticeable and deeply disappointing. All in all – a reasonable third box I guess. My fourth box is in the works – similar design, made from Jarrah with a perhaps a more interesting lid – I haven’t chosen the exact lid yet – I have a few in production. We’ll see – blog to follow I guess!