Hunter vignerons worries their grape wine could be impacted by a lack of pickers

Hunter Valley vignerons have had to battle droughts, bushfires and smoke taint and now Covid may affect this year’s vintage.

With next to no grey nomads and no backpackers from overseas, vingerons in the Hunter are worried their grapes will be left on the vines with rising infections affecting potential local workers as well.

Bruce Tyrell from Tyrells Wines said his grapes are looking good and are just about ready to pick, but the next problem is getting them off the vine.

“They’re clean for the most part and there’s nice big berries, so we’ll have a decent crop in size but the next problem is getting them off,” he said.

“Normally our picking teams have been grey nomads and backpackers but last year and again this year we don’t have either of those so the district is now desperately looking for pickers. I think every winery in the Valley will be looking to add people to their picking team, so we’re still short of the numbers we need.”

“There’s a good four weeks of work there, its a way to earn some money, if you’re in a band and all your gigs are cancelled come and see us for a few weeks, and then you get to work outside!”

“If we can’t get the pickers we’ll have to machine harvest. We can machine harvest grapes, we probably machine harvest half of ours but we’ve got vineyards here that are over 100 years old and you know, you don’t take your grandparents for a ride in a Billy cart because it shakes them up a bit! So they need to be treated more gently but if we really have to we can resort to machine harvesting,” said Bruce.

“We own the oldest producing chardonnay vineyard in the world, over 100 years old, and you really want to treat those with respect so that’s where we really need the pickers.”

“If anyone is looking for a job you can call us,”

“We won’t be the only winery in that position so if you’ve got a favourite winery ring your favourite winery and for people going back to uni at the end of February it’s a good two or three weeks of earning money.”

So if you’re looking for a grape way to spend a couple of weeks and earn some cash, grape picking might be the way to go.

Image credit: Tyrells Wines Facebook page