I had arranged to meet two experienced grape-pickers at the Villarejo vineyard at 8:00 sharp but I almost didn’t make it, as I couldn’t get the van to start!
The night before I had hosed down about 100 plastic fruit cases and loaded them carefully in the correct configuration; and I had remembered to bring extra scissors – just in case. And I had remembered to bring water, and a hat, and even to put some petrol into the van. All systems go! But then at 7:15 outside my house, the van wouldn’t start! What to do?
Well, I got out the van, rolled up a cigarette, and smoked it while frowning at the van, and thinking of options. But I couldn’t think of any feasible options, apart from to call the pickers and arrange another day! So I got back in, turned the key, and the engine started! Go figure! And it went perfectly for the whole day!
Anyway, I arrived at 8:00 as planned, and we started picking at about 8:15, as it took us 15 mins to unload the crates and stack them next to the van. Then we picked till about 13:00 without stopping. We would make piles of full crates wherever it was convenient and then we would take turns to carry them to the van. It made a change from just picking. Each crate could hold about 8 or 9 kg of grapes, so we could carry two at a time.
|Picker posing with the biggest bunches we could find!|
We didn’t overfill the crates, so that they could be stacked without the crates above pressing down and crushing the grapes in the crate below.
At about 13:00 I made a trip to the bodega in Morata de Tajuña as the van was full. I unloaded all the crates and stacked them on pallets and took them inside.
Then I loaded up more empty crates. Next stop was a bar where I bought a ‘bocadillo de tortilla francés con tomate’ (half a baguette with plain omelette and tomato) which I ate while driving back to the vineyard.
The pickers had brought their own lunch and were already back at work when I arrived. We finished at about 17:00. We drove back to the bodega, where they helped me unload and stack the crates on pallets, and we were done. I decided to leave the grapes inside the bodega where the night-time temperature would drop to about 10ºC, and then next morning I would start to process them.