At Podere le Ripi winery the day begins at 8 am, which is when 25 brave team members meet in front of the employees changing rooms, ready for action. Most of them are very young, the average age is around 27 years old, and this allows us to diffuse a good dose of energy and enthusiasm in what we do. It also allows us to see very peculiar morning faces…probably the outcome of some festive night. Being Tuscan, we never miss the opportunity for a joke, even first thing in the morning.
In the morning, the first thing to do (as quickly as possible) is feeding the animals, between hungry cats, singing cows, sheep, donkeys and an ever growing number of chickens – the roosters rather hang out between themselves than with the hens -, we must hurry and feed them all…or we’ll become the food ourselves. This is normally David’s job, our Ortolano, and there might even be a translation for that, but we think that the Italian word describes the job perfectly. Then, while Simone – the cellar manager – begins his daily check of the barrels, the rest of the team plans logistics and tools needed for the daily vineyard maintenance. This part of the team is the biggest, led by Alessandro and Matteo, who spend most of their days troubled by the vineyards and their never-ending needs.
In this peculiar historical period (2020-2021) something quite unusual is happening at Podere le Ripi: the team that in normal cirumstances is based in office has now been “recycled” in the vineyards for half of the workday. They suit up with farmer clothes in the morning: gloves, scissors and heavy-duty shoes, and change back into office clothes and roles in the afternoon, taking care of the administration, client’s needs and so on. A change that happened out of necessity, which the office team embraced extremely well. In the past they used to talk about working in the fields, and now they actually do! This is in my opinion what smart working really is: a bunch of intelligent kids that welcome with curiosity everything that happens in their place of work. A mentality that allows us to face the seasonality of this job. Having a multifunctional group of people furthermore means having a team that is highly involved. We like to believe that we were able to create an environment in which everyone is free to find their own are to specialize in.
Anyways, let’s get back to our day. Once we finally get to the vineyards, we start working: right now it’s all about the pruning and subsequent removal of old vine branches from the wires. The team chiefs will usually spend a few minutes explaining the whys of the current job, fundamental in the understanding of the task. Halfway through the morning we take a break and have a snack, Tuscan moms and wives tend to be very generous and pizza, wild boar sandwiches, pastries and so on are always carefully packed in everyone’s lunchboxes – somehow everyone is still skinny. Fatty foods are a godsend during cold days.
The rest of the morning flows smoothly, between chatting away and chasing the dogs that keep us company but also drive us slightly mad. At lunchtime everyone leaves the vineyards, the outdoor team heading for their canteen and the office team back to their desks and computers. We must admit that we’re slight coffee addicts, it’s a family traidition here, and much needed to get back on one’s feet after lunch.
If the cellar and warehouse managers are done with their morning chores, they usually substitute the office team in the fields, that way the remaining hours of the day flow quickly, with all hands on deck. We believe that it is important for everyone to see each other everyday, as a way of facilitating communication and making sure everyone knows each other, crucial for a winery with so many people. Furthermore, it allows for every employee to fully grasp every element and role within a winery.
Around 5pm we get back to where the day began: the changing rooms. Each team chief gives the others a quick summary of the day’s work, then everyone heads home. The day seems to be over… but is it? Not yet!
At around 6.30 pm, whether someone is in the middle of a yoga class, or playing with their kids, phones start going off and the trill of multiple Whatsapp messages beging to be heard. Within these messages, all the logistics and planning for the following day.
We plan with the accuracy of an army who’s about to go into battle. We even have a few team members skilled enough to predict the weather and the amount of expected rain, down to the millimeter. Thankfully, our friends and family know that, and they accept us for who we are: passionate—although a bit too much at times.
When the planning is finally over, we get to enjoy the rest of our evening, which usually consists in large meals and good wine. Ever so often a good willing team member – who will have a lot of cleaning up to do afterwards – will organize a dinner and host everyone over a huge pan of carbonara—made with Le Ripi eggs, and wine bottles from all over the world for everyone to share, taste and comment upon. Through these dinners we enjoy and cultivate our passion for foreign wines and cultures, and jokes are a constant factor, keeping spirits high and the mood light and fun.
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