Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Day 3 - The numbers game

There is a fair bit of arithmetic that goes on at harvest time, not only on the winemaking side (where we calculate the sulphur etc. that we have to add to the tanks), but also on the logistics side, making sure that everything and everybody functions in the most efficient way possible.

Indeed, the reason that I picked on this as todays subject was simply because I was sitting at my desk looking at the pressing figures for yesterday. As I think I may have mentioned, months or even years ago, we have two presses, one slightly larger than the other. They both have a fixed 'operating range' - in other words, the minimum and maximum amount of grapes that we can load. This is actually a very serious consideration, as attempting to operate outside this range will probably result in extensive (and expensive) damage to our equipment.

So, as each new batch of grapes arrive in reception, not only do we have to examine the origin (seperating certain vineyard plots), but we also have to calculate the optimum loads, and allocate the grapes accordingly.

The real problem occurs when the last grapes arrive - we quite literally have to sit down with calculators and work out how best we can distribute the weights (not an easy task at the end of a long working day when you brain has already been working overtime).

Anyway, returning to my pressing figures for yesterday, I was actually quite surprised to see the volume that we had actually crushed - almost as much as our busiest day last year. The main difference was that yesterday we did not really notice it, which might be testament to the fact that we have now a well-drilled team who know exactly what they have to do.

Oh dear, I must have been tempting fate writing about the presses.... During the evening session the larger of our two presses just stopped working. Fortunately, we pay for 24 hours emergency cover during the harvest and within half an hour we had an engineer working on the problem. Luckily it turned out to be one small piece of circuit wire, a mere 3cm long, that needed replacing, and only one hour of precious pressing time was lost.

Harvest would not be harvest without at least one small hiccup, but having just said that I now have my fingers crossed that it will be the only one!

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