There’s plenty of stories shared between mates, James Mader and Allan Baumann, as they reflect on their pruning adventures and demonstrate age is no barrier to the yearly task.
James, of Light Pass, has been pruning the same property for 65 years and is a fifth generation grower. He reflects on the vines he has planted, some of which he has helped to replant three times.
“When I left school there were very few vines this side of the railway line… this was all fruit, apricots and nectarines,” said James.
James recalls the changes over time with the property now all vineyard.
He learnt the pruning craft from his father, Victor having left school at 14 years of age to join the family property.
“It was all rod and spur pruning and he taught me well,” said James.
“We would finish one vine and got to the next and he was already pruning it, he knew what to do.”
The vineyard was all hand pruned until machine pruning started in the mid 80’s and since then James said the operations have become more sophisticated.
“A lot of people though are going back to rod and spur,” said James.
But among the journey the vineyard has encountered, James said he prunes the same block each year, much like Allan.
Allan has been pruning for the Mader family for at least the last 20 years and says he loves it.
“Every vine is a challenge and that’s what makes it interesting,” said Allan.
“And each vine is different too.”
Allan admits he doesn’t like the cold, frosty starts but quickly adds “the rain has never stopped me”.
“I’m out from daylight to dark, with water proofs on and warm clothes,” said Allan.
Allan juggled shift work with a pruning role when he moved to the Barossa in the 1950s. He said he loves vineyard work and will happily line up five days a week.
“It’s the way of life,” said Allan.
“You are out in the open and there’s nothing better.”
Mandy Mader who is now part of the sixth generation of the Light Pass property paid tribute to her father-in-law, James and Allan, saying they are too quick.
“It’s an easy thing to learn,” said Allan.
“I have helped pick fruit and worked with three generations on the Mader property.”
James said the average age of people working in the vineyard is “right up there”.
“I will keep going for as long as I can… I had a hip replacement a year and a half ago and I am fitter now than I have been for years,” said Allan.
“I don’t like reaching over the vines so I will prune one side and crawl under the vines to do the other.”
And the friendly rivalry continues beyond the vineyard with Allan adding, “When Jim stops, I will stop.”
With hand snips and a backpack, James said once he’s out in the vineyard pruning, he’s happy.