Tuesday, 15 February 2022 15:30

A mature bunch

Written by  Sophie Preece
Te Mata Estate Te Mata Estate

Te Mata Estate is preparing to unleash a "secret weapon" in the vines, as its handpicking team trades retirement for harvest.

"We are very, very fortunate," says Lead Viticulturist Brenton O'Riley of the 70-strong-crew, most of whom are in their early 70s.

"Our oldest is about 84. We did have an 87-year-old but he retired this year - I guess for the second time."

Some of the team have been working harvest for the company for more than 20 years and all are "absolutely reliable" and dedicated to a quality job. "They are keen as mustard to hook into it," says Brenton. "We put the email out the night before around what we're doing the following day. And you can almost guarantee you'll get about 95 percent attendance. And the quality of what they do is just excellent. I have never come across that before. They care about everything they do and go to the nth degree."

When it comes to a wetter season, the crew are Te Mata's "secret weapon", he says. "They will pull individual berries out of a bunch to make sure that what goes to the winery is absolutely clean."

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