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Wednesday 14 September 2011

Airén Harvest 2011

On Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th September we finished harvesting the Airén in Carabaña (Spain).

The Good News

The good news is that the grapes were very healthy and showed no signs at all of any type of infection (eg, mildew or oidium). They were also perfectly ripe (for the type of wine we’ll be making with them), with a probable alcohol level of 12% and good acidity.

Yours truly

The weather on Saturday was exactly the same as it has been for the last few weeks here in Madrid, ie hot and cloudless, probably about 40ºC max during the day. On Sunday, it was pretty similar but with a bit of light cloud cover, and even occasional breezes (which were very much appreciated!)

A Beautiful Healthy Bunch of Airén

More good news was that we had a very good turnout of volunteers, especially parents and children. (We rely on friends and family and neighbours for the harvesting, and to a lesser extent for the pruning, as we can’t afford to pay professional pickers!). So we managed to finish the Carabaña vineyard and can now concentrate our new vineyard in Villarejo.

A Relaxing Moment 

The Bad News

The bad news is that the rabbits this year have eaten a significant proportion of our grapes! Usually, they’ve been content to nibble a few bunches from the vines on the edges of the vineyard, and we’ve been happy with that too. But this year, there must have been a population explosion in rabbit-world for some reason or another! Basically, ALL the grapes from the edge vines were eaten, the proportion getting less towards the centre of the vineyard furthest from the edges.

Rabbit Hole

This year we only have about 600 liters of must, which will give about 800 bottles of wine, when we usually get from 1000 to 2000 bottles :(

Rabbit Hole 2

We’ll have to do something about that next year. Any suggestions welcome! So far people have suggested the following:

  •  A fence (for too expensive and time consuming for us. It has to be high AND buried)
  • Shiny CDs hanging from the vines
  • Traps
Crushing and Pressing

Again, as we did with the Tempranillo two weeks ago (see this post), we had a manual crushing machine and plastic buckets for those who wanted to stomp the grapes barefoot.

Crushing Grapes Underfoot

Crushing Grapes with Technology!


First, I’m very pleased about the following:

- that we’ve finished harvesting Carabaña in only 2 weekends

- that so many people turned out to help, and that they all had a great time, especially the children

- that the quality of the grapes was so high. The wine will be awesome (assuming we don’t do anything wrong over the next few months!!!)

But secondly, I’m now a bit worried about harvesting the new vineyard at Villarejo. The grapes are very ripe at this very moment (about 12% probable alcohol, according to the quick n dirty sampling and analysis I did yesterday) so we really ought to harvest them all this weekend. And there’s a lot of grapes there, about 4,000 kg, and we never know how many people will be coming to harvest. My head is full of doubts and worries and minor details (Where are all the scissors? Are there enough cases? Where can we get a van for transporting the grapes to the bodega? What to do for lunch? Who should I call? How to stop these monkeys chattering in my brain so I can think straight? ….) I’ve lost my appetite and am smoking like a chimney! At least I’m still writing posts and uploading photos to FB and Twitter!

PS. There are more photos of this harvest (and of last week’s) in my albums on FaceBook here: http://

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