name="description" content="Terroir-expressing natural wine minimum intervention">

Friday, 26 October 2012

Malvar Harvest 2012

(Sunday 13th October 2012)

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.

Unloading and stacking onto a pallet

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.

Malvar grapes ready for processing

One of the pickers asked me if I needed any more help in the vineyard, and I said that maybe yes, from January onwards to help me dig up and cut off the wild shoots that I didn’t have time to do last year (see this post).

2000 kg of grapes picked in 8 hrs by three pickers, which equals 83.3 kgs/person/hour. Is that a lot or a little? I’ve no idea as it was the first time that I’ve harvested that way. If you’ve read any of my previous harvest posts, you’ll know that my usual procedure is much more laid back!

Usually, it’s a motley crew of friends, family, guests and strangers who turn up to help! And we only pick in the morning and then stop for lunch – a long lunch! Then we crush and/or press whatever quantity of grapes we just picked.

This method has advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is of course that everybody has a great time and has a really enjoyable day out. This is perfectly doable if your production is small and are have flexibility about when exactly to pick. But as your production increases, your windows of flexibility become smaller, and you really have to harvest a certain quantity of grapes on a specific day, and you can’t rely on friends and family ‘maybe’ coming out to help! I think I’m reaching the tipping point, but I can still go both ways, ie I really do have to harvest some grapes on specific day, but for the time being I can still afford to have a few unproductive, inefficient, romantic days of harvesting with friends and family and guests and long lunches :)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please write a comment to this post.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.