Welcome back, backpackers

With international borders now re-open for business, wineries will be welcoming international workers back with open arms.

Brand’s Laira Chief Winemaker Peter Weinberg said many international workers brought skills with them because they had often worked in other wineries overseas or within Australia.

“One good thing is they have got so much experience under their belt and that makes it much easier for us in regards to training and everything like that,” he said.

“The main thing they bring is enthusiasm and knowledge and often we learn things from them as well from what they have done in other wineries overseas.

“It also makes life interesting in the winery too, because of people from different backgrounds and their experiences and what conversations they bring to the table from their countries as well.”

Mr Weinberg said many of the current international workers were people who had stayed in Australia during the pandemic.

“So that’s where they have come from the last two vintages, but moving forward we will see a lot more people actually flying in and a new range of backpackers or travellers,” he said.

Mr Weinberg said there had been lots of competition for workers this year, however now the borders were open they should no longer have this issue.

Veronika Blahova from the Czech Republic, Nicole Cornejo from Chile and Linda Eek from Estonia worked at Brand’s Laira during vintage 2022.

Ms Blahova said she enjoyed working vintage and had been in Australia for almost three years, travelling around completing seasonal work.

“This is my first vintage so I have enjoyed it, I did not know what to expect because I did not do it before but I enjoyed it,” she said.

“The best part of this vintage was, for sure, our team.”

Ms Cornejo has been in Australia for three years and this was her second vintage.

“In this winery they really care about the wine and I think I learned so much more than in the last one, because it’s so small and we are a small team,” she said.

“I enjoyed it a lot, my favourite part is that we did a little bit of everything.”

Ms Eek worked her third vintage this season, which she said was different to her first two and one of her favourite parts was being able to walk to work.

“I really want to praise and thank the Brand’s family here, all the workers embraced us and they took us in,” she said.

Samuele Venir from Italy and Tristan Chazelle from France are both qualified winemakers who worked the 2022 vintage at Balnaves of Coonawarra.

Mr Venir said he learned lots and would travel around Australia as there were places he wanted to visit.

“It was since COVID started that I was trying to come here for the vintage but it was not possible, so finally, I made it,” he said.

“Everyone is so gentle and kind with me and if I have a question they will answer the question, it’s very, very good.”

Mr Chazelle chose to visit Australia because he thought it was a nice place to explore and he could learn new practices along with improving his English.

“For me, it’s very nice also, a new experience, to discover a new country also,” he said.

Mr Chazelle also played football for the Penola Football Club during his time in the region.

“It’s very nice to (have a) new experience, enjoy also and learn a new language, play footy,” he said.

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