I arrived in Australia on late January and went directly to McLaren Vale, where I was going to work for the next few weeks during vintage at a medium sized winery, Wirra Wirra, which I didn’t know much about. It was midsummer and I was expecting beautiful and very hot weather, so you can imagine my surprise when I walked out of the airport and was drenched in a matter of seconds. I suppose I looked very disappointed and puzzled, because this very kind young woman approached me and tried to help me sort out the best way to get to McLaren Vale (from the airport in Adelaide). So, with a map in one hand, backpack on and a big suitcase rolling, I walked to the bus stop right outside of the airport, and waited under the rain for the next bus to the city for at least half an hour. Walked some more, took a train, then a bus, until I finally got to McLaren Vale, just to find out the place where I would be staying, The Range, could only be accessed by car.
So I went into a backpackers place I found on the main street and asked to use their phone. In just a few minutes, Jane came to my rescue to pick me up and take me to my new home. You must be wondering, who the heck is Jane? Well, she is this incredible and energetic woman I was lucky enough to live with, while renting a room in her house for the season. Since the beginning, she made me feel at home, and her son Jock made me feel like part of the family as well, although I didn’t get to spend so much time with him since he was only visiting for a couple of weeks.
This is my first time living in an English speaking country and, since aussies speak so differently (from the English I learned in school), I had a hard time adjusting to the accent. But honestly, since day 1, everyone I met was super nice to me and made it so easy for me to fall in love with this country. I spent the first two weeks enjoying the countryside, going to the beach and getting to know the city (Adelaide) and the surroundings a little bit, since the vintage hadn’t fully started and I was working only 8 hours/day and only 4 days a week. After that, it was 12 hour shifts, from 6pm to 6am, full on, and it was awesome! I’m not even sure if I ever actually adapted to the night shift, since I basically needed at least 4 cups of coffee daily to function properly, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way, I just loved the job! I was mainly doing lab work and when I wasn’t too busy I got to help out the guys out in the winery, so it was always dynamic and I was active all day, or should I say all night. So many sunsets, so many trials, so many sunrises and so many lab tests, and yet, each one of them was different and special. Seriously, I don’t think I had ever seen so many sunsets and sunrises in my life, it was breathtaking!
Working at Wirra Wirra was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Even before meeting her in person Kelly was amazing, beautiful inside and out, intelligent and fun, I grew very fond of her. I got to learn so much from her and the rest of the team during these past few weeks I am amazed and so proud of myself. Smithy (senior winemaker) and Tom (winemaker) were great and super passionate, although I didn’t see much of them because they were working on the day shift. Jane, my mentor in the lab, was lovely and incredibly patient with me. I could keep going like this, talking about all the Wirra Wirra’s staff members and would never be done. But I guess what I really want to say is that I feel honored and truly grateful for this opportunity.
I believe I was able to learn a lot about winemaking during this vintage, but more importantly to me, I was able to experience an amazing working environment and a different kind of enterprise management. Since I am currently studying an MBA online, I found this most interesting. It may sound stupid for some people, but I loved that everyone greeted me every single morning/evening with a smile, that co-workers make a second cup of coffee and take it to you because they know you’re busy and probably craving it, that your work is recognized and even praised by the winemakers, everyone is so kind and cheery and love their own jobs so much, that even during stressful times the working environment and the vibes are super cool. The organizational culture is beautiful and I will work very hard to achieve that in my own company in the future.
My birthday was on Feb 25th; turned 25 :O!! I had a great time. I was filling tankers with David and exactly at midnight I got to give myself a moment, lie down (on top of the tanker) and look up to the stars. It was such a beautiful sky… I couldn’t help but cry, and feel blessed and super thankful because, honestly, I couldn’t have been in a better place at the time!!! We had dinner, wine & candles, and sparkling wine to toast with in the morning, after shift was over. The next evening (it was still my birthday since I was on night shift) I had the most amazing surprise. I got a gorgeous flower arrangement from my Mom and sister, which only made me feel even more lucky and grateful. It was lovely!
I really like how much I got to learn everyday and how comfortable I felt in this place, both at work and in this country, something I had never experienced before, and I freaking love it!!! Vintage party was incredibly fun, and I was finally able to spend some time with people from the day-shift, especially with the girls, whom I adore! Surfing lessons, picnic at the beach, lots of wine and beer, and of course a memorable after-party. Great people, new friends, more knowledge, an experience I will never forget! <3
PS: Special thanks to all the people I met during this vintage, colleagues, winemakers, my family back in Mexico, and even random people I only spoke to for like 5 minutes, seriously thank you, because you are part of what made this bit of my life so amazing and unforgettable!
Fall in love with your life! <3