Given that I have been a fashion editor for years, it’s easy for me to ask my industry contemporaries to contribute to A Day in the Life, but I wanted this strand to reflect women in all sorts of jobs, so I was extremely pleased when Christie Schulz, the proprietor of Turkey Flat Vineyards, in the winemaking region of Barossa, South Australia agreed to come on board.
And, yet again, we have another A Day in the Life over achiever:a full week in the life.
Over to you Christie:
A week in the life of … Christie Schulz — Proprietor, Turkey Flat Vineyards, Barossa, South Australia
A typical day … there’s no such thing. Owning and running a busy winery means each day is unique, with a different hat to wear. A week gives a pretty good overview.
Sunday means family to me, so I’m up early and head to our beach house to spend time with my eldest son William, his partner Aija and their two girls, Lotte and Nina. It’s a lovely day, swimming, fishing and paddling on canoes, followed by a casual dinner on the deck watching the sun set over the beach.
An early morning beach walk starts the week – great exercise and also a chance to collect my thoughts for the busy days ahead. After a shower and breakfast (my usual muesli, yoghurt and espresso), I drive into the city for my usual round of Monday morning meetings with bankers, accountants or trade visits with reps to Turkey Flat customers.
In the afternoon, I head back to the Barossa and Turkey Flat, where I catch up with staff and the previous week’s cellar door (where we sell directly to consumers at the winery) report. A couple of hours in the office clears paperwork and emails, then it’s time to call to my son Alex in Kuala Lumpur (I send myself reminders so I don’t get caught out by the time difference!), then its home for a wander around the garden, before a quiet dinner and bed.
The day starts early for my weekly personal training session. I’m no gym junkie but make regular exercise a priority; both physically and mentally, it helps get me through my long work days.
Home for quick shower and breakfast.
At 10am I go straight into the office for the weekly staff meeting. We go through the week’s program, and discuss vineyard operations, upcoming PR events, bottling schedules, market allocations and any staff issues – luckily few and far between, thanks to the great team I’ve got at Turkey Flat – which gives you an idea of the different aspects of winemaking which must be dealt with all at the same time.
The rest of the day continues with meetings: Chad Morris (Australian Government Austrade Representative)) and then the printers to discuss our label printing schedule and new product development. From politics to printing all in an afternoon!
At 7pm I head out to a wine dinner, after a quick freshen up, for a group of Chinese delegates visiting the Barossa. It is a social occasion, but still important to keep business-focused.
As usual, up early. Over breakfast I answer emails which have come in overnight, then get a Skype call from my youngest son Oli, living in New York.
Tennis training is cancelled this week, as last night’s Chinese group are arriving at Turkey Flat @ 8am for breakfast, followed by tastings and a tour of the old vine charter – a walk around our 1840’s vineyard, wine tasting and winery tour.
I cater myself: fresh orange juice, fruit, yogurt and muesli, warm egg and bacon pies and savoury muffins. Tea and coffee are on offer but the Turkey Flat Sparkling Shiraz is the beverage of choice: sparkling red is an Australian creation and it’s a first for most of the group. It’s a timely visit, providing the opportunity for them to help our winemaker dig out the last fermenter of the vintage and see the must (grape juice) into the grape press — a hands-on highlight, they say, and a delightful experience to offer people who might not have seen wine production in process.
In the afternoon I host a UK wine retailer and his wife for a private tour and tasting, then work on sales forecasts for our domestic distributor, market visits and our PR program.
Immune to early starts, I answer emails then shower and have breakfast. Being Thursday, it’s the local Barossa Ladies Morning Tennis Competition – a great workout and a fun social gathering. My team is called the Tanunda Shiraz, Tanunda being my home town.
I head to office around midday. The afternoon flies, spent fine-tune bottling and packaging requirements for our various markets, and setting the bottling calendar for the year. I come up for air for a call from Alex in KL (still working on dates for his coming visit).
I work through until 7pm and my last appointment for the day, a scheduled Skype conference with Thomas Anderson, our agent in Denmark, to discuss new market development.
Home just before 8pm for dinner: grilled salmon with steamed vegetables and home-made pesto hits the spot – accompanied perfectly by a glass of Turkey Flat Rosé, there have to be perks to owning a winery!
Up even earlier than usual to check emails (and drink coffee) before a 6.30am tele-conference with our US importer. It’s a productive call, covering the current US market, sales and our PR strategy, including a possible US visit in September. I do a lot of PR and marketing trips, so it’s good to lock them in well in advance.
By 8.30am I’m at the winery for a meeting with the vineyard consultant. We do a walking tour of the vineyard, discussing pruning, cover-cropping and other vineyard maintenance issues.
Back in the office mid-morning for a PR update from Emily (PR and Marketing Coördinator), in particular our involvement in the Wine Australia marketing program and Savour Australia events.
After lunch I meet with our winemaker Mark to discuss vintage outcomes, production forecast and blends, then we do a benchmark tasting of current vintage wines from cellar.
The day ends with a post-vintage celebration with staff and farewell to our vintage intern, Ximun, who has spent the last 12 weeks working in the Turkey Flat cellar. Vintage is a hectic time for everyone at the winery, so it’s a chance to relax and catch up now that the hardest production work is done. I cook a 5 hour slow roasted leg of lamb, served with salad and crusty bread which goes down well matched with some special older vintage Turkey Flat wines from the cellar.
Cleaning up made the evening a long one, so today I sleep in, then enjoy a late breakfast and leisurely read of the weekend papers.
Garden chores follow, and coffee with girlfriends at a local café leaves me just enough time to get organised for dinner with friends. I’m on ‘nibbles’ tonight so it’s an easy prep: I grab home-cured olives, local bread and dukkah (a spiced Egyptian dip), and olive oil pressed from the winery grove. A couple of bottles of Turkey Flat wine, and I’m off for an enjoyable end to another ‘typical’ week.