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Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Intense three days of vinous activities - Day 2

Saturday 27th, up early again for a two-hour drive up the mountains behind Madrid to La Puebla de la Sierra, for a combination of talks/conferences by organic producers from Madrid Region (including wine, but mainly fruit, veg, cheese, meat, yogurt, etc) and an organic farmer’s market in the plaza.

Panoramic view of Puebla de la Sierra

The event was organized by the co-op Los Apisquillos, who raise sheep and goats (organically of course) and also make cheese and yogurt. They are also the ones who kindly give us all their manure which we spread around the vineyards every few years.

Loading up manure (back in 2006)

At 10 o’clock there was a series of short talks by organic producers, focussing on the difficulties of distribution and sales of organic products, with topics ranging from the absurdity of applying legislation designed for multi-nationals, to small artisan setups, eg, a cheese producer has been trying to obtain permits for over two years!

The village hall

I listened to about 5 producers then (along with a fellow wine producer) wend down to the plaza to set up our tables – it was 12 o’clock and that means ‘aperitivo time’! So, shooting the breeze with the other organic producers and the few tourists who were passing through, tasting each others’ products and buying from each other! While chatting over a glass of wine I met by chance an expert pruner, who lives in a nearby village, and (I volunteered him!) he volunteered to come and help me finish off the pruning next week!

Me and my table in the plaza

Then, at 1 o’clock the speakers and listeners came down for a breath of fresh air (and wine and cheese!) and then off they went back upstairs for more speaking and listening. A 3 o’clock they all came down again for more wine and tapas before heading off for lunch together. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for lunch as I had to catch the AVE (Spanish High-Speed Train) to Barcelona that evening at 19:00. So at 4 o’clock I packed up my things (minus several cases of wine that I sold!) and by 6 o'clock I was back in Madrid, where I packed up more wine samples, a toothbrush and a sandwich and by 7:30 I was on my way to Barcelona.

Closeup of my wares

What a contrast of worlds: from a deepest rural Spanish village to 21st century, hi-tech, anti-gravity, maglev (or whatever) train in the space of a few hours! I was most impressed by the AVE. It took just over 3 hrs to cover the 620 km (400 miles) to Barcelona, and it takes you from city centre to city centre (ie no extra time/expense getting to/from airports) and no need to check in, just arrive 2 mins before departure. No big deal really, it’s just a train, but compared to my previous train experiences from 20 yrs ago, it was like living in the Culture! Anyway, arrived at 11 and by 11:30 I was having late dinner at a friends house who kindly offered me his sofa for the night.

On the AVE platform at Atocha Station

... more tomorrow about the Natural Wines Fair

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