There are only two mistakes one can make on the road to the truth; not going all the way, and not starting – The Buddha

It’s Vintage time! Gruelling 12-hour days, 40 degrees heat, stained red hands and the stench of fermenting wine – not to mention the millions of mosquitos, lizards and poisonous snakes. Why would I put myself through this? Well I was definitely low on money, but on top of that, my time spent at the winery last time round gave me some of the most important realisations I’ve had on my travels. I want to share them here with you guys…

When I’d tell people I’d worked at a winery on my travels they’d always pose the following questions:

Did you get to drink the wine?
Did you have to jump on the grapes to extract the juice?

As much as I’d love to answer YES to both of those questions (sometimes I jokingly did), I’d be telling porky pies. Anyways, being a vertically integrated winery, it was HUGE place littered with gigantic tanks all over the spot. It would certainly make a great place for a big game of hide and seek. Unfortunately I didn’t get to play hide and seek, but I did get to learn about the process of winemaking all the way from the very start when the grapes came in to the end when the wine reached the bottle.

Side Note: I think you’d think twice about drinking wine if you knew that fish guts, milk products, gelatine, enzymes, potassium hydroxide, sulphur dioxide (can blind you and kill your sense of smell!!), acid regulators and around 40 other chemicals are used throughout the process. That probably explains why Backpackers get an extra special “Goonover” after a night on some cheap wine.

But the novelty quickly wore off…

As interesting as making wine sounds, the novelty quickly wore off for me. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated my job, earned good money and learnt a lot of interesting things. But monotony quickly settled in and the whole experience quickly turned into a few valuable life lessons.

All the casuals were there to fill menial tasks and assist the company throughout its busiest period – Vintage. Day in day out I’d press that same button, attach yet another hose, add additions, sample wine and maybe clean a tank if I wasn’t so lucky. Put it this way, I knew that if I came back in 20 years time there’d definitely be some kind of new machine or possibly a robot doing my job.

My days were filled thinking about how important it was to work on something I was passionate about. I talked endlessly to a lot of the permanent workers there to try and work out their motives. A lot of them had devoted 20-30 years of their lives at the winery. I couldn’t comprehend that. Exactly like me, day by day, they’d come in and live out the same routine. They lived and operated their lives based on work commitments. I spoke to one worker that described his life as a “vicious cycle.” After countless years at the winery, he told me he felt like he was “stuck in a rut” and not capable of leaving because he had a family and other liabilities (mortgages, car on finance, loans) to care for. I too experienced how easy it was to get caught up in it all. Even for the short 3 months I worked there, I lost sight of my passions. I didn’t feel motivated to exercise or even eat properly. I finally admitted it – I was devoting all of my energy to work for nothing more than money to fund my travels.

Factory Politics

One thing that came apparent when i started the winery was the magnitude of negativity and conflict between workers – so much unnecessary bullshitting went on. It seemed that none of the workers wanted to get on and that everybody had a bad word to say about each other. I didn’t understand it. Maybe it was down to hierarchy and people seeking higher positions? Maybe it was due to monotony and a need for the work hours to pass by more quickly?… who knows.

I also found that some of the permanent workers would gain almost a feeling of importance by “dumping” the tedious jobs on the casuals. I didn’t mind as I knew my job was temporary. I was more than happy to fill this role. I was fortunate enough to get along with a supervisor who looked out for me whilst I was there. He’d find me enough work to see out a 12-hour shift and made sure I’d stay when the big boss was looking to send people home… I can’t thank him enough for that.

My Life Realisations from Completing a Vintage

Now I want to make it clear that I’m all for someone who has passion for what they’re doing. People that don’t – I don’t want you to fall into the work-for-no-gain-but-money trap like I once did… so notice that:

  • The Corporation’s Killing You – It pains for me to say it but the corporation doesn’t have a heart, emotions or feelings. The corporation is out there to make money and satisfy its shareholders. The corporation always works in its own best interest and wants to maximise profit margins. Despite the perks, benefits and fuzziness the corporation makes you feel… you’re simply just another number in a system. Once you’ve been made redundant, you’re easy to replace.
  • You Can’t Place a Value on Your Time – Please don’t make the mistake of indefinitely exchanging your time for money. When you do this, you forfeit and become a prisoner. You set a finite value on your time and begin working on someone else’s terms and not your own. You have to adhere to their rules. You have to eat when they want you to eat. You have to ask to go to the toilet. In addition, all of those hard hours of work you put in for a fraction of the output created is making other people a lot more successful than YOU. Know that your time and is worth far more than money.
  • YOU have something to Give the World – Never neglect your special qualities and talents. It’s disrespectful to your creative nature. Everyone has something special to give the world. Make a pact to work on your passions. Start by chipping away if you think it’s going to take time to break away from old habits. Lots of small steps equals big progressions. Above all, pursue something that will make you feel proud when you look back all grey and old.
  • Never get complacent – If you find yourself slipping into a comfortable routine, make a conscious effort to bounce out of it. Don’t sit there and suffer because the situation will only get worse. If you feel you are stagnating at work, remember that only YOU can change the situation.

Overall, working at the winery was a big life changing experience for me. It gave me a lot of time to think and put what I wanted in life into perspective. I’m so fortunate to have realised very early on in life how important it is to spend my time doing something I love. I hope that this blog persuades you to hit a monotonous job on the head and pursue what you love!


Daniel Beaumont, on behalf of Podstel. 


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