I feel like I hit the wwoofing jackpot.

I am at my latest farm…a small family operation just outside of Renwick in the Marlborough wine region of the northern south island.

We have been picking plums and preserving them and boxes of apricots all the long morning (a deliciously tricky and sticky business), and are now free for a while… I am sitting outside of my bedroom, which is within a cottage near the main house…barefooted on the shady, jasmine-vined, sun-dappled veranda, a cool breeze ruffling my red and white checked shirt as I look out toward the vineyard ahead, and the mountain ridges beyond. The first is green with trees, the second distant enough to appear a shadowy blue, crowned with clouds.

The olive groves are behind me. The make their own oil here, and call it Antipode, which was a new word for me. It means exact opposite, or a world apart from all others. They only produce small, award-winning batches of organic, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil, made from three varieties–Leccino, Frantoio, and Pendolino. God bless the Italians for their beautiful language. Those names make you want to lick your lips. Those olives make the best oil I have ever had.

To my left is the main house, framed by French gardens lined with young lemon trees and bunches of fading lavender. Rows of roses and more flowers to my right, then the veggie gardens and tomato plants, then old walnut trees whose nuts you can crack open with your hands, the fruit trees, bent to the earth, laden with small but bright and bountiful plums. Plums you pull off by the handful. Plums that look more like cherries.

Tomorrow we will work with the vines. Pinot and Sauvignon grapes. They grow about seven acres worth…they don’t make their own wine yet, but instead send all the fruit to one winemaker, who makes his wine only from their grapes.

It is called The Darling.

Oh, sweet thing.

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