Foreign staff pitching in

CHLOE WINTER
Last updated 06:53 06/03/2014
Coral Carcia Seoane
Derek Flynn

Villa Maria systems winemaker Michaela Rush, Villa Maria chief winemaker George Geris, with cellarhands Michael Raser, Josh Hogg, and Coral Garcia Seoane.

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A league of nations has arrived in Marlborough for the 2014 vintage.

Spanish woman Coral Garcia Seoane and Austrian Michael Raser are among the international workers at Villa Maria Estate near Blenheim.

The workers mostly stay with host families while here.

Ms Garcia Seoane had worked at a family winery in Spain, but Marlborough vintages were "one of the best experience you can have", she said.

"For me, Marlborough is very complete, because in 30 minutes you have mountains, the sea, the vineyards and it is a really, really good place to live and I love the wine."

Mr Raser said he was enjoying working in a bigger winery after working in his family's small winery in Austria.

Villa Maria Systems Winemaker Michaela Rush said they hired 70 extra staff for vintage work. More than half of the workers hailed from other countries including Argentina, Austria, Canada, Chile, China, France, Germany, Hungary, Portugal, Singapore, Spain and the United States, Ms Rush said.

The rest were New Zealanders, mostly from Blenheim.

Blenheim man Josh Hogg said he was working in the winery this vintage for the first time, but he had worked during school and university holidays in other areas of the industry.

Ms Rush said Villa Maria Estate tried to hire a mix of experienced and inexperienced staff.

It was hard to find experienced and qualified New Zealand vintage workers, but they considered all their applicants, she said.

"We are never going to fill our entire numbers with New Zealand staff."

The foreign staff added a new dimension to the work place and brought with them information and ideas from wineries in their home countries, she said.

"Basically it's a good way of sharing information and ideas. So they probably get as much out of it as we do."

Villa Maria's vintage staff have been arriving since late February and their harvest was due to start today.

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- The Marlborough Express

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