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Monday 29 August 2011

Tempranillo Harvest and Crushing 2011

All done! Grapes picked and crushed already! I have to check my notes from past years to be sure, but I get the impression that the harvest is earlier and earlier every year!


We picked the Tempranillo grapes on Saturday 27th August, and, unusually, it was a very relaxed, no-stress, no-rush, family and children oriented day. Altogether there were 7 parents, 7 young children and only 2 singles!!!

The grape-pickers

We started rather late, at about 10 o'clock. Which is not bad actually, considering that we had to wake the kids up early while they're on holiday with no school, get them dressed, give them breakfast, and get all their stuff together, etc, etc!!! One mother and children hadn't even arrived at 14:00 (when the above photo was taken) and when we were finishing off and getting ready to go to lunch!!!

We picked about 400 kg max, which is the lowest quantity we've ever picked from that vineyard over the last 8 years. I don't know why so little this year. Maybe the climate? It was a rather cool summer this year. I shall have to ask around. Maybe also we need to bring in some fertilizer? In the past we've always brought in a truck-load of organic manure every 2 years, and we should have done it this year, but we didn't (due to circumstances!).

The quality on the other hand, was excellent. Not a single sign of mildew or oidium or anything else.

Nice healthy bunch of Tempranillo

More nice health bunches of Tempranillo

In fact, this year we didn't even apply sulphur to the vines at any time. Some years we spray sulphur powder on the vines if there's a risk of an outbreak of oidium/mildew/etc, but this year it wasn't necessary.

Grape-pickers in action

A corner of the vineyard

Yet another healthy bunch of Tempranillo

It was all over by 15:00, and after taking the grapes to the bodega (in Morata de Tajuña) we all went to a bar with a 'terraza' for coffee, beer, ice-cream, etc, and stayed there till the evening. It was the quickest, easiest harvest I've ever done, in fact it didn't seem like work at all!!!

The last thing I did before heading back to Madrid, was to take the grapes outside, so they could cool down during the night.


We crushed the grapes today Sunday 28th August. Again, it didn't seem like work at all as there was such a small quantity. We were done in a few hours.

We crushed most of the grapes using this machine (below): a manual crusher-destemmer. You tip a box of grapes into the open top and turn the wheel (left). The grapes fall between 2 rollers that are spaced at less the width of a grape (eg, about 0.5 cm), are crushed and fall down into the waiting 'capazo'. The stems are ejected at the end opposite the wheel.


Crusher-destemmer in action. Empty boxes on the left

But we also crushed some underfoot (see pic below). I've heard that people pay good money to go and stomp on grapes! Hmmmm!

Crushing and stomping

Lastly, as they say in Spain (well, at least in Morata de Tajuña) "You can't make wine without beer!"

Cheers! or "Salud y buen vino"

And really lastly, in the end there was about 400 l of must (including skins and pips) which should be more than enough for a 225 l barrel of crianza, including some liters for top-ups. The density of the must was 1097 which should give 13.5% alcohol, more or less.

Friday 26 August 2011

Pre-Harvest Sampling (Tempranillo)

This morning I was in the vineyard in Carabaña (Madrid, Spain) taking samples of the Tempranillo; and as we suspected we're going to harvest tomorrow, as the probable level of alcohol will be about 13,5º.

Tempranillo Cluster

I did a systematic sampling as opposed to a quick n dirty one! ie, I walked up and down every row and picked eithe 1, 2, 3 or 4 berries from each vine, (from different sides of the vine, from different parts of the cluster, etc) so as to get an accurate and representative sample. Quick n dirty smaples are OK during the summer to give you a rough idea, but as harvest time approaches, the more accurate, the better.

More Tempranillo Clusters

Ideally, it's best to go early in the morning to take the samples, because that way it's nice n cool and it's a pleasant task to stroll through the vineyard, listening to the birdies and picking berries! Also the temperature of the juice will be lower and so will give an accurate reading, without having to do any calculations to compensate for temperature differences (most instruments are calibrated to 20ºC). Unfortunately, I couldn't get out till about 12 noon, and it was a bit too hot for confort!

It's also a good idea to wear socks and shoes, as opposed to sandals! I usually keep socks and shoes (and other clothes and tools) in the back of the car, but this was my first trip out to the vineyard after my holidays, and so I'd completely forgotten to load up all the usual stuff.

So all in all I didn't enjoy the (90-minute) experience a lot!

Where's the grapes?

This vine (above) is near the edge of the vineyard, and all the clusters have been eaten by some animal - I suspect rabbits! Note the bottom branch - even the leaves have been eaten off it!!!

Berries eaten

Some of the grapes on this vine have been eaten also, but by a different animal. See how the individual berries have been eaten but the stem is still there.

At this point, my mobile reached its limit and wouldn't let me take any more photos :(

I really must get myself a more modern internet-friendly device, so that I can post stuff straight to the internet from the vineyard or bodega, instead of having to come home and downloading into my PC!

More news and photos tomorrow on the Tempranillo harvest.
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