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Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Pruning our Sustainable Vineyard

Last Saturday 6th Feb we were pruning again, this time just three of us (no students!) so we managed to do quite a lot (about 200 vines) relatively speaking, but unfortunately we took far too long over lunch, otherwise we could have done maybe 300 vines!

Juan prunes a vine

The two photos below show the same vine, before and after pruning

                      Before                                                After

The next two photos below show the same vine before and after sawing off a dead ‘arm’

                       Before                                                      After

Here we can see a ladybird (US: ladybug), a bit out of focus (sorry, will do better next time). Ladybirds are our friends! They are super-predators and eat all sorts of nasty aphids and bugs that attack the vines/grapes. This is just a small part of the vastly complex biodiversity that we work to create in the vineyard, as opposed to using industrial agro-chemicals that poison the environment and affect peoples’ health.

"I say ladybird, you say ladybug"

More biodiversity! This is a holm oak sapling (one of five) which has sprouted right next to a vine. We are going to transplant them to the edge of the vineyard next day we go.

Holm oak sapling 1 of 5

Below left is a vine that has gone wild, ie the grape variety (either Tempranillo or Airén) that was grafted onto the rootstock either didn’t take or died off at some point. There are about 100 of these wild vines in the vineyard, and we are planning on regrafting them this Spring with a different variety. Any suggestion as to which variety we should select?

                   Wild                                                  Tamed

Above right  is what was left when I’d finished with it! The reason we prune these vines back is not for any ‘production’ reason (the bunches are tiny and the berries are tiny too) – we only do it because they grow enormously long and smother the neighbouring vines (which are about 3 m away!).

Monday, 8 February 2010

Bottle-Washing in the Winery (2)

Last Sunday 31st January, we were filling bottles of young white (100% Airen) and young carbonic maceration red (97% Grenache, 3% Cab Sauv). This was a pleasant fun task, as it was accompanied by interesting conversations, glasses of wine (quality control is important!) and regional music (specifically Manu Chao and Radio Futura on this occasion).

Unfortunately, before that we had to wash bottles and/or take the labels off. That wasn't so much fun, but at least we consoled ourselves knowing that we were doing a good turn for the environment by recyclcing so many bottles - and not only we 4 who were there, but also all our beloved consumers who made the effort to return their bottles and (in some cases!) to take the labels off :)

José Luis and Fermín taking labels off, and Juan in the background, at the bottle-washing machine

Fermín and José Luis taking off more labels

More bottles to be soaked for the next time

Strict quality control procedure

Monday, 1 February 2010

First Day of Pruning

At last (on Friday 29th January) we managed to start pruning in the vineyard in Carabaña. It has rained and snowed so much this year in central Spain, that we couldn't start earlier.

We didn't actually get much done, as we were with the agricultural students from the Escuela-Taller de Alcorcón, who wer doing the parctical part of their course studies in our vineyard.

In the vineyard (looking North)

Juan explains how it's done, around a vine

In the vineyard (looking South)

After working so hard all morning, lunchtime came round, and as it was such a lovely day, we decided to light a fire and eat in the vineyard.
Barbecue in the vineyard

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