Barrett goes to vat with grape expectations

WALT DICKSON
Last updated 09:40 11/05/2012
Beauden Barrett
PIERS FULLER
GRAPE MAN: Hurricanes star Beauden Barrett is knee deep in grape skins at Palliser Estate in Martinborough.

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It wasn't your typical Hurricanes training session but for Beauden Barrett it still had the desired effect.

The rising rugby talent was gasping for air on completion of the "dug-out challenge" at top Martinborough vineyard Palliser Estate yesterday.

Tasked with shovelling around 1.5 ton of pinot noir grape skins through a man hole on the side of a vat the young first-five eighth acquitted himself well.

One of the last acts of the grape harvest the dug out is a tradition at Palliser Estate. When the grapes in the vats have finished fermenting and the bulk of the wine has been removed all that is left are the skins. 'Dug out' of the vats the skins are then gently pressed to extract the remaining wine. Palliser has made a competition out of the process with pickers and winemakers going head to head.

As sponsors of the Hurricanes No.10 jersey Palliser invited Barrett over to Martinborough to take up the challenge.

Being the good sport that he is Barrett duly obliged and no sooner had he arrived at the vineyard he was presented with a pair of gum-boots and knee deep in grape skins.

With team mate Jason Eaton cheering him on Barrett put in a big effort, but it wasn't enough to beat Palliser's 2012 champion Tom Howard.

Barrett likened the experience to working on the farm, as opposed to a training session in the gym.

The effort required was compounded by the high levels of carbon dioxide, ethanol and alcohol swirling around in the vat making breathing difficult.

"A bit like playing at altitude," Barrett says.

Palliser wine maker Pip Goodwin says Barrett was a good sport for taking up the challenge.

"We (Palliser) are rapt to be associated with a promising player like Beauden," Goodwin says.

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