Updated: May 30, 2020
Back in March when I jumped on a plane to Sydney to commence work on Australia's Got Talent, I was pretty disappointed that I was leaving the Central Otago grape harvest behind. Not only is it a time of celebration, there are always plenty of opportunities to capture great images.
Fast forward a week, and I managed to sneak back into New Zealand 24 hours ahead of the lockdown. Due to the unseasonably cold end to the summer, the grapes were ripening a lot later than usual and were still hanging on the vines. With everyone told to stay at home under Covid-19 alert level 4, there was a very real fear that grapes would be left to rot on the vines. That would have been a real shame, given the 12 months of endeavour that go into caring for and coaxing the vines to give up the finest fruit possible.
Fortunately, the government classified wine production as an essential service and allowed the harvest to continue...albeit it with some very strict conditions in place.
Then, the main issue was finding people to pick grapes, as the casual fruit-pickers that normally descend on this area for the various fruit harvests, scrambled to exit the country.
Luckily for me, Tracy and I were gifted an opportunity to pick grapes and that meant, the camera came along too. Then, out of the blue, a producer from the TVNZ show Seven Sharp contacted Felton Road looking for some footage to support a story they were producing about the 'Lockdown Harvest'. They initially said "even if you could just shoot something on an iPhone"...to which vineyard owner Nigel Greening replied: "I think we can do something better than that"
Having shot more than could possibly be squeezed into a 03:45 story that also needed to include North Island footage; I decided to make another video showcasing the efforts of the whole Felton Road team to ensure the awesome looking 2020 fruit would have a post-lockdown life...in bottles. It certainly will be a harvest to be remembered and while we couldn't get together and socialise with a beverage or two after picking the grapes, at least we were fortunate enough to get leave from home to isolate amongst the vines.