Jenny's last vintage

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“We’ve put the vineyard up for sale. Today is the first morning where I’ve woken up and not cried about it.”

Jenny Houghton runs her life with an energy few can match — she also has a knack for ending things with a bang.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m ready to see it go, it’s just a lot,” the Longwood farmer assured.

A few days ago Mrs Houghton oversaw her last ever grape harvest, bringing to a close the award-winning Maygars Hill wine label.

It was also one of her most memorable harvests due to the seasonal worker shortage.

Her early season verjuice and rosé picks were done largely with her own two hands, but when it came time for the larger Shiraz and Cabernet picks the task seemed impossible.

But in the nick of time, Mrs Houghton started receiving calls.

“It was remarkable, so many people heard that there was trouble getting pickers and they all rang me,” she said.

“I got calls from people you wouldn’t hear from in a fit, we had a couple of retired farmers, a business man from Euroa, all offering a few hours.”

The Shiraz pick was completed in a single day, helped along by 16 friends and family members.

“Because we had 16 and it was a light crop it was the most pleasant pick we’ve ever had because everybody was happy,” Mrs Houghton said.

“The second pick, which was the Cabernet, most of the same people came back a week later and I got eight more people from Shepparton through the broker.

“They were all from the Congo. At the end they sang us the most amazing hymn, it was just beautiful.”

Now the last hymn-ended harvest sits within Fowles Winery, undergoing the transition from grapes to wine.

Assistant winemaker Tegan Clydesdale said Mrs Houghton had always been one of the winery's earliest customers.

“We haven't even picked our own reds yet,” Ms Clydesdale said.

“From what we're seeing in the whites, the fruit yields are very good this year.”

Mrs Houghton said the seasonal conditions meant this vintage could be up there as the best ever picked at Maygars Hill.

“I aim to keep the business name and the stock, it will give me something to do while slowing down to just our Angus herd, it will also keep me in touch with my customers who’ve become great friends,” Mrs Houghton said.

“Unless someone offers me a squillion for it, then I’ll happily hand it over.”