Please forgive me for turning this into a travel blog for a minute. My husband and I were lucky enough to spend a few days in NSW wine country last week. He recently changed jobs and booked this time away for us before he started the new job. Our two little ones went to the grandparents and we had three days of not having to look after anyone but ourselves. I never sleep in, so that’s what defines my holidays: no nocturnal bed crashers, no running a ‘cafe’ for demanding little customers, not having to referee fights, not having to get small children dressed, toileted, in and out of cars etc etc.
Here are a few photos – we could be in France or Italy, right? The views, the wine and the food were fantastic.
At one winery, we got talking to the daughter of the maker. Her father had started making wine in the mid-70s and she grew up learning about wine, tasting small amounts at the dinner table. Of her own four children, her eldest daughter, 15, wants to go into the family business and be a winemaker. She is at the local high school, where they study viticulture and have their own vineyard. Apart from wine-making, hospitality is the biggest industry in the area, and the high school also offers a TAFE-accredited apprenticeship pathway. By the time a student finishes high school, they have already completed two years of a hospitality apprenticeship, working in one of the local restaurants. As explained to us, even if they decide that career is not for them, they are still so young and lose nothing from switching track.
I thought all this very innovative and practical, and a genuine help to teenagers as they transition to a career. The irony of teaching teenagers winemaking at school, where they presumably also taste their product (and spit, I’m guessing) was not lost on me, amidst all the messages teenagers receive about not drinking underage. I was thinking, perhaps these children of winemakers who know all about the blood, sweat and tears that go into making a bottle of wine are less likely to neck one with friends on a Friday night. Perhaps they sit around comparing tasting notes and discussing vintages! Or maybe not.
Do you know of any high schools offering innovative courses like this? Did your own high school prepare you well for the working world?