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Toby’s Tales Pt.4 - “Working in A Vineyard”

Working at a vineyard like Kenton isn’t always just making cocktails and eating lobster. At the end of the day a vineyard needs a lot of looking after and this year especially we were left without the usual crew that come across from mainland Europe to lend us a helping hand. Ben decided to wait until the weather had really warmed up before he introduced me to the reality of what this really meant.

I think it was actually the hottest day of the year yet when he decided it was time for us to get out there weeding in between the vines. At first I was glad that it was a nice day. On my usual cycle in I felt grateful for the sunshine and was looking forward to a nice day out in the sunshine- a bit of weeding here, a bottle of cider there, maybe a pizza around lunchtime, lovely!

I knew I’d got it wrong when I saw Ben in full sports kit. As I pulled up to the winery he stood there looking as if he was about to rugby tackle me. I immediately regretted my choice of clothing. He handed me a shovel and showed me which weeds we were to remove. I was suspicious at the shovel having previously coped with weeds effortlessly with a trowel but when I saw the size of the monster weeds we’d be tackling the shovel made much more sense.

So, we got to work, up and down the vines. Now, I’m not afraid of a bit of hard work but as I had spent my first few weeks playing with a coffee machine and drinking cocktails I really had to change gears. I was enjoying it at first. I almost always enjoy doing something new, especially if it’s a bit of a challenge. It felt good to be out in the vines, getting the hours in, being able to actually see the difference we were making to the vineyard was satisfying work…and my hands weren’t hurting yet.

A vineyard like the one here on the estate always looks beautiful, even now as I sit here in the late autumn heading into the depths of winter the vine leaves are gently browning off and giving the place a nearly golden sheen. But there is a lot of maintenance that goes into that behind the scenes. It’s one of the reasons that we can only open for 5 days a week through the summer and why we have to close fully for the majority of the winter months. When you have a place as special as this it comes with a huge responsibility of to preserve it.

As my hands blistered and my shins bubbled at the mercy of stinging nettles I really came to appreciate this, but mucking in and getting your hands dirty lies at the heart at the essence of The Motley Cru (as long as you wash them again before going back into the kitchen or Milena will give you a slap on the wrist). We got stuck in and Ben and I enjoyed a well earnt cider after a long day’s work…and I only broke one shovel!

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