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Friday, 9 August 2013

New Bodega - A Hot Summer Week

It's been a hot week here in Spain and I've been sweating like a pig all day and every day this last week or so, as I've been doing lots of physical work in the new bodega. But the end is in sight at last. All the important and/or expensive works have been done, and now it's the final bits and pieces:

- The insulation of the doors was the last major task, which we finished the other day.

The front door, insulated

The back door, insulated
And all the other doors (2 side doors and 4 main grape reception doors, all the same size as the above) are insulated too!

The insulation consists of expanded polystyrene panels, which we had to measure, cut up and fit jigsaw puzzle-like to the doors, which are made of thin metal sheets. They got so hot that if they had been horizontal instead of vertical, we could have fried eggs on them.


Then we put up some gates, for safety reasons. We don't want any children (or adults, for that matter) to go upstairs, and maybe fall down into one of the fermentation tanks, as several of the covers are missing.

Gate - going up
Open holes with 2.5 m drop onto concrete!

Metal grill
All the holes should have covers like in the photo above, but many are missing. it turns out that building was burgled about two years ago and the burglars took about 20 of these covers and sold them for scrap.

Neither do we want anyone to go downstairs, which at the moment is full of old machinery, and assorted junk, apart from the original crusher/destemmer and conveyor belt. It's just too much to clean up at the moment, but eventually we want to turn that space into a museum/expo room using all the old wine stuff we found lying around, and which we've kept.

Gate - going down

The conveyor belts are going next Monday. We managed to sell them to the local sawmill! Hooray!

Mobile conveyor belt

Fixed conveyor belt

The other day I put up insect-screens on all the windows:

Window - before

Sheets of netting + silicon
Window - after
There were about 20 windows like the one in the photo above.


This was lunch one day, in the bodega. Canned olives, canned aubergines, canned sardines, roast peppers in oil, bread, fruit and wine:



I've seen three vineyards already, even before finishing the works at the bodega. Once they really are finished, I'll start looking in earnest both for vineyards to take on and also for buying in grapes.

The latest one I saw was this one, which is literally 5 minutes walk from the bodega. The outskirts of the village are now encroaching on it.

Vineyard in El Tiemblo
I really like this vineyard. The owner says he doesn't use any chemicals, and as you can see he doesn't plough up around the vines. The vines look like they are really old, and the grapes look very healthy and vigorous. My only doubt is that the variety is a local white grape called Chelva, which is mainly used as a table grape, and no-one makes wine with it. After asking around for information, the most frequent comment I got was along the lines of "Chelva's rubbish for wine - a bit like Airén" !

This is what Jancis Robinson, José Vouillamoz and Julia Harding have to say about it in their book Wine Grapes:
"Chelva is widely grown in Extremadura, Spain, where it is authorized, among many other varieties, in the Ribera de Guadiana DO. It is also grown, to a much lesser extent, further south in Andalucía, where it is authorized in regional wines such as Vino de la Tierra de Sierra de Alcaraz but not in any of the autonomous community's DOs. There were 7,490 ha (18,508 acres) in Spain in 2008, the vast majority in Extremadura (6,495 ha/16,049 acres), the rest in Castilla-La Mancha (845 ha/2,088 acres) and Castilla y León (150 ha/371 acres).Unusually, Chelva is used both for the table and for wine but most of these hectares are for wine grapes, producing rather neutral wines that generally disappear in blends."
Well!  What can I say!  So I'm going to make a experimental lot of white wine with it. Maybe I'll be able to prove the experts wrong again, like I believe I have done already with my Airén and Malvar, which are also not very highly thought of varieties for making wine with.

Rickety bridge over irrigation channel in the vineyard
Close-up of bunches of Chelva grapes
This is another vineyard I saw. Garnacha this time, and a bit further from the village - about 5 minutes by car.

fotos of 2 garnacha vineyards

Vines not so old, maybe about 30-40 years. The owners has retired and he wants to sell/rent/get rid of his vineyard, or at least sell the grapes this year. I don't know what to do yet. I can't think straight with all these tasks I have to do at the bodega!

I also popped into my own vineyard in Carabaña:

A lot of grass around the vines in Carabaña!
Parts of it are terribly overgrown and wild looking, as I haven't been able to tend to it properly this year due to the new bodega.

This part of the vineyard is not so bad!
But the climate has been favourable, and the vines are looking really healthy. There's lots and lots of grapes this year, and I've even thinned a few clusters from some of the vines, that were especially loaded.

Here's a picture of a vine that's climbing up a plant which I deliberately left growing right next to it:

Vine in Carabaña

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