Ballandean Estate’s harvest season has been sweetened by the addition of honeymooning French lovebirds Afef Idoudi (24) and Thomas Relizani (28), who have spent the past few weeks hand-picking much of Ballandean Estate’s fruit for the season.

The vineyard valentines hail from Nice in the south of France, and have been honeymooning in Australia since their late November wedding. “Travelling the east coast of Australia is our lifelong dream, and we are lucky enough to be doing this for the next two years,” said Afef. “Thomas and I are both nature-lovers. This is our first job in Australia, and we feel so blessed to be helping the Puglisi family bring their fruit in with tender loving care. The Granite Belt is such an incredible food bowl—grapes, strawberries, tomatoes, lettuces, and all of the beautiful fruit orchards. Such abundance! We hope to spend several months here working on the land.”

Estate manager Robyn Puglisi-Henderson says she is delighted to share her passion for the estate, and giving young people the opportunity to experience the harvest. “This year we’ve had 15 backpackers help us alongside our local crew,” said Robyn. “We get a range of nationalities, predominantly French, Italian and German this season. Our local harvesting office makes it so easy to engage with these adventurers. They come from such diverse backgrounds. Thomas is a tailor at home in France, he has offered to make Dad (Angelo Puglisi) a bespoke suit while he is here!”

“You often expect them to be students travelling before they head to university, but sometimes they are older and just taking a break from their career. This is a great opportunity to travel and make money while seeing the best parts of our country. This harvest has been challenging. The raging bushfires at Girraween National Park have struck terror into every vineyard family. We’ve spent the last three weeks picking most of our crop by hand to minimise risk to the fruit,” Publisi-Henderson said. “However we are pleased to report that our chief winemaker Dylan Rhymer says we are free of smoke taint at this stage with all of the fruit he has tested and tasted.”

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