The Carabaña (Madrid) vineyard, planted to both Airén and Tempranillo all mixed up, is almost finished - only about 100 vines to go. Then we'll start on the Villarejo vineyard, planted to Malvar, which has about 500 vines. Both these town are to the SE of Madrid and within the area covered by the D.O. Vinos de Madrid, though we're not regestered.
All our vines are low bush-type vines (fr: 'en gobelet'; sp: 'en vaso'), so it's quite hard on the old back muscles! The worst is at the beginning of the season, especially the first day, but after that it gets better.
Every morning, during the pruning season, I usually do some stretching and some sit-ups, which helps a lot and strengthens your muscles. The last three days were a bit much, though, so I'm going to give it a rest till the weekend.
I think we're doing OK for time. The vines seem to be dormat still, as I haven't seen any "lloro" (crying!), ie a watery liquid that drips out of the pruning cuts. They should be waking up very soon now, as the max day temperature is easily about 25ºC here in central Spain. I've actually had to use sun-block and wear a hat! And drink 3 liters of water per day! It's still cold at night, but not below freezing any more.
After pruning each vine, we stack the canes in piles in the lanes between the rows of vines. In a month or so a tractor will come and chop them all up into tiny pieces. The tractor pulls a box-like implement behind it with revolving chins at ground level; the chains pulverize the canes and mow the grass and plants down to ground level. This is all good organic matter which improves the structure of the soil.
Spring is springing, slowly but surely. I've noticed more insect life lately in the vineyard. There are lots of ladybirds (ladybugs), and the other day I saw a lizard and a spider. Good predators! Yesterday a bee came by as I was having my lunch. As you can see from the photos, the ground is still quite bare, but the grass is starting to grow already. In about 2 weeks the ground will be visibly green.
I'm sorry if you found this post a bit boring, but that's all that's happening at the moment!
Here's a photo that's NOT of a vine or of a pile of canes :)
Here you can see my lunch in the back of the car! Bread, cheese, 'jamón', fruit. And in the background, my gloves, hat and pruning shears!