Harvest Notes

Notes for Harvest season - picking grapes

  • Harvest season can be anywhere from late January to middle to late April. It is totally dependent on the weather (Nice warm to hot days and nights with not too much rainfall). Each year, the starting time is different as no two years have the same summers.
  • Each variety of grape is picked only when it is ready. The sugar levels must rise to an amount that is satisfactory to convert to alcohol. This is totally weather dependant and if the sugars are not ready, then the grapes will not be picked until they are ready.
  • Mostly, grapes are picked in this order: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Chenin Blanc. After this, then all remaining red varieties are picked last as they take the longest to ripen: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and so on.
  • Picking grapes is completed on a piece rate (as per Fairwork Australia), NOT hourly. The piece rate is dependant on how many buckets can be expected to be picked per hour by an AVERAGE EXPERIENCED PICKER.
  • Prices can be anywhere from $2.00 (very easy picking) to $6.60 (highly difficult) per 10 kg bucket.
  • Fast pickers make good money (2020 – best picker above $35-40/hour). During harvest, every day we post all the days picking on our Facebook page. If you would like to check it out, the last 3 harvest years are on it and you can see that some people can make very good money per hour (2019 on one day, 3 team members picked over 100 buckets in less than 6 hours!).
  • However, some people are not suited to farm work and will make considerably less money per hour.
  • The rate per 10kg of grapes picked (one bucket) is set on historical data from the previous 30 vintages and through observations prior to the picking season and is adjusted accordingly each year.
  • Basically, the rate is set at how many 10.00 kg buckets a reasonable picker should be able pick per hour to earn an equivalent hourly pay and above.
  • Pay week is Monday to Sunday
  • Pay day is Tuesday morning two days after the Sunday.
  • We start picking grapes the moment the is enough morning sunlight!
  • We pick grapes usually Monday to Friday and try to give approximately 5.00 hours of picking – after 5.00 hours, most pickers are too tired to continue as it is very physically tiring.
  • If it is raining, then no one in Margaret River will pick grapes as the rainwater washes out the sugars in the grapes.
  • If the temperature EXCEEDS 37.50 Degrees Celsius, then ALL WORK STOPS FOR THE DAY. NO EXCEPTIONS (IT’S TOO DANGEROUS).

Visa days are signed off as:

  1. Each day worked (no minimum hours in harvest) = one visa day.
  2. If you’ve worked a total of 5 days in a seven-day week, then that is given as = seven visa days.
  3. If less than 5 days worked, (i.e. 04 days in a 7-day week), then only the days worked will be counted towards visa days.

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