The weather was particularly dry this year. Since the beginning of March it hardly rained, leaving farmers rather desperate. Those who irrigated the vineyards in August were able to save most of their harvest luckily.
The grape picking season normally starts mid September and goes on to half October. At our family farm, ‘quinta‘ as we say in Portuguese, we start picking grapes in one of the last weekends of September. But not this year. The grapes matured much earlier, so the ‘vindima’ was in the second weekend of September.
Grape picking at our family farm is hard work, but the ambiance is gay and pleasant. Especially during lunch, of course! Working on both sides of the row helps a lot: it makes talking easy and we hear a lot of gossip and news while picking.
But you have to be careful and pay attention not to make deep cuts in your fingers or in the palm of your hand. That’s why we tell friends and family who help us during the harvest not to start picking putting their fingers at the grape stalk. No, the best way to do it, is to hold the bunch with your left hand from underneath and to cut with your right at the top of the stalk.
Some varieties of grapes leave your hands coloured as if they are bleeding. When I am picking the Alicante Bousquet it looks like I have been slaughtering a pig. I easliy fool my friends on Facebook showing my fingers!
While the pickers on the field are filling one basket after another, a tractor collects full baskets bringing them to the ‘adega’, the wine grange. White grapes are pressed immediately. The juice goes into barrels, where later on the fermentation takes place.
The success of the winemaking process depends greatly on the amount of sugar in the juice. So when we see a percentage of 14 before the juice goes into the barrels we feel quite happy actually.
In the Silver Coast region farmers produce a kind of Port called ‘Abafado’. This little mouse (left on the photo) is extremely found of the Abafado in the oak barrel. She came out every night to enjoy drops falling from the tap. Little mouse was so addicted that she didn’t bother having people watching her.
The winemaking of the red grapes is different. Next harvest I will explain how we make red wine out of the Tinta Roriz-grapes . This grape variety is also called ‘Aragonês’ and related to the Spanish Tempranillo from which Rioja is made. I do hope you visit my blog again next harvest!
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