Your Guide to Organic, Biodynamic and Natural Wine


Tempranillo Harvest 2011

All done! Grapes picked and crushed already! I have to check my notes from past years to be sure, but I get the impression that the harvest is earlier and earlier every year!

Picking

We picked the grapes on Saturday 27th August, and, unusually, it was a very relaxed, no-stress, no-rush, family and children oriented day. Altogether there were 7 parents, 7 young children and only 2 singles!!!

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We started rather late, at about 10 o’clock. Which is not bad actually, considering that we had to wake the kids up early while they’re on holiday with no school, get them dressed, give them breakfast, and get all their stuff together, etc, etc!!! One mother and children hadn’t even arrived at 14:00 (when the above photo was taken) and when we were finishing off and getting ready to go to lunch!!!

We picked about 400 kg max, which is the lowest quantity we’ve ever picked from that vineyard over the last 8 years. I don’t know why so little this year. Maybe the climate? It was a rather cool summer this year. I shall have to ask around. Maybe also we need to bring in some fertilizer? In the past we’ve always brought in a truck-load of organic manure every 2 years, and we should have done it this year, but we didn’t (due to circumstances!).

The quality on the other hand, was excellent. Not a single sign of mildew or oidium or anything else.

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In fact, this year we didn’t even apply sulphur to the vines at any time. Some years we spray sulphur powder on the vines if there’s a risk of an outbreak of oidium/mildew/etc, but this year it wasn’t necessary.

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It was all over by 15:00, and after taking the grapes to the bodega (in Morata de Tajuña) we all went to a bar with a ‘terraza’ for coffee, beer, ice-cream, etc, and stayed there till the evening. It was the quickest, easiest harvest I’ve ever done, in fact it didn’t seem like work at all!!!

The last thing I did before heading back to Madrid, was to take the grapes outside, so they could cool down during the night.

Crushing

We crushed the grapes today Sunday 28th August. Again, it didn’t seem like work at all as there was such a small quantity. We were done in a few hours.

We crushed most of the grapes using this machine (below): a manual crusher-destemmer. You tip a box of grapes into the open top and turn the wheel (left). The grapes fall between 2 rollers that are spaced at less the width of a grape (eg, about 0.5 cm), are crushed and fall down into the waiting ‘capazo’. The stems are ejected at the end opposite the wheel.

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But we also crushed some underfoot (see pic below). I’ve heard that people pay good money to go and stomp on grapes! Hmmmm!

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Lastly, as they say in Spain (well, at least in Morata de Tajuña) “You can’t make wine without beer!”

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And really lastly, in the end there was about 400 l of must (including skins and pips) which should be more than enough for a 225 l barrel of crianza, including some liters for top-ups. The density of the must was 1097 which should give 13.5% alcohol, more or less.