Long days are interspersed with short breaks, from a quick lunch in a car deep in a vineyard to a cup of coffee in the workshop.
The relaxed way in which Martin, Pete and Francois interact reveals a strong relationship. They seem to look after each other, which creates a sense of timeliness to the shot.
Jim elicits a laugh as he supervises the efforts of grandson Darcy to flatten a load of stems and branches that were separated from the grapes. High in antioxidants, this mixture is fed to their cattle.
All three grandchildren help out with various tasks on the estate, but they also spend time with Jim each week exploring and playing on the land.
Unforeseen issues such as machine breakdowns or radical weather changes can threaten the workflow and overall schedule.
Nathan’s expression after learning something unexpected is suggestive of his awareness and overall care of every step in the winemaking process.
Heydn checks for flavour and clarity, as well as looking for any faults in the filtration process.
The hoses, equipment and dials tell a different part of the winemaking process.
Gwen’s hand characterizes the systems and administrative work that are also a part of winemaking.
During harvest, Nathan meets the backpackers each morning before sunrise. In addition to explaining the sections that will be harvested that day, he reminds them of the key steps and processes of handpicking.
This shot suggests the level of coordination and supervision that is required to carefully remove the grapes from the vines.
The netting that protects the fruit from birds is among the most important and labour intensive stages of winemaking.
Netting is difficult to put on and even more difficult to remove. At Brown Hill Estate, all of it is placed and repaired by hand.
A signature shot of the story, the rain on Francois’ glasses reminds me of the relentless physical work that often goes unseen.
Shiraz grapes are pushed back against the conveyor to give other sorters time to catch up. This happens several times a minute as twigs, leaves and all other ‘mog’ (material other than grape) are removed by six pairs of hands.
The dark, gritty image hints at the cold, wet nature of this work. The hands seem to cradle the grapes, a reminder of the human touch of this process.
A bottling truck is booked three times a year, always a year in advance. The small window of just three to four days creates enormous pressure to ensure the fruit is picked and processed on time.
Playing with reflections are fun to do and, when done right, they can enhance an image.
During the bottling process, approximately 10,000 bottles are filled, labeled and boxed each day.
I found it difficult to capture the process of bottling and packaging. This shot indicates the teamwork involved, with the sense of movement from Nathan and Haydn while, in the foreground, Leo waits for the next box from the bottling truck.
After pruning, the final stage for each of the 35,000 vines in the estate is to lay the canes around the lowest wire.
The need for a delicate touch is why Nathan designates women for this gentle weaving work.
At this stage, everything is trimmed and cleaned up. To me, it felt like the vines are supported by the wires and they don’t have to do anything more, except rest over winter.
The angle of this shot gives an illusion of endlessness to the wires and vines, a complement to the ominous sky.
The starkness and bleakness of this image makes me feel that the vines are exhausted and in need of rest.
This is also the time that everyone catches their breath and recovers for the next season.
For me, this is the closing image of the story as it epitomizes the cycle of hard work that goes into caring for the vines that produce the grapes that make the extraordinary wine of Brown Hill Estate.
Every so often, Sabine looks for a passion project (a photography or video project not commissioned by a client). This is usually a story that she wants to tell, as she sees it.
Sabine’s latest such project was to follow renowned winemakers Brown Hill Estate for a year. Her raw, powerful and classic images tell the story of a family’s passion, dedication and connection to nature.