Grape Harvest (Vendimia) 2018

On the 1st of September 2018 we had our Grape Harvest (Vendimia) at Finca del Rio – La Vina de la Iglesia.

After the grapes are picked, usually starting at 6am, they are brought to tables to be sorted. We remove green grapes, split grapes and any grapes that show signs of powdery mildew.  Although we do cut any mildewed grapes off before the harvest, as much as possilbe and discard away from the vineyard. All the work is done by hand, except the de-stemming.

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After sorting of the grapes. They are put into a de-stemmer machine. This removes the grapes and juice from their stalks using an archimedes screw at the top of the machine which leads the grapes onto grooved flexible rollers and then into a revolving drum with cut-out holes and paddles inside the machine.

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The stalks are collected from the machine, then later are put back onto the vineyard as compost.

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The grape juice is transferred from the de-stemmer machine using plastic buckets into a large tank. Fermentation takes place almost immediately. No sugar is added and the vineyards own natural yeast is left to combine with the sugars in the grapes. The tank is covered with a muslin cloth to stop fruit flies from spoiling the fermenting grape juice, but still allows a good flow of air across the top of the must.

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The fermentation ‘cap’ is pushed down, also called ‘punching down’, so that the skins of the grapes add colour and flavour during maceration (skin contact) and do not dry out.

The syrah tank during punch down and maceration.

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The tempranillo tank during punch down and maceration.

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To control the temperature of the fermentation, bottles of ice are used to cool the grape juice. These are replaced at intervals.

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After the harvest the de-stemmer machine is thoroughly cleaned for use next year. The revolving cylinder with punched out holes can be clearly seen. These holes effectively cause the de-stemming by tearing the stems from the grapes as they revolve around.

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So now we wait for the fermentation to stop before the next stage which is to seperate the juice from the skins and seeds and to place the juice, now wine, into stainless steel tanks.

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Piedra Verde 2017 wine label

We finally have a wine label for our organic tempranillo wine; Piedra Verde.

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The label is made from recycled kraft paper.

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Named after a rock found buried under the land when the vineyard was first planted. It is now a fountain on the Finca terrace.

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Bull Run (suelta del toro) – Cortes De La Frontera

On Sunday 19th of August, Cortes De La Frontera held one of it’s first bull runs (suelta del toro) as part of it’s annual Feria 2018.

The following week then features many festivities; parades, live music, dancing, theatre, bull fighting, and then on the final sunday night (26th August 2018) a firework display.

The full program of events can be found on the Cortes de La Frontera Ayuntamiento website here; http://www.cortesdelafrontera.es/8233/com1_md-3/com1_md3_cd-44843/programa-feria-2018

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Harvesting cork in Andalucia

During the summer months cork (corcho) is harvested by hand in Andalucia, Spain to be used in wine bottles.

Workers use axes to cut and strip away the bark.

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The cork trees are then left for ten years, so the bark can grow back. Leading to more ecological way of harvesting the cork.

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The cork can only be harvested when the sap is rising, making it mallable to cut and peel it away from the tree.  At other times of the year the bark would be more difficult to render from the tree.

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The cork is loaded by hand onto very tranquil and tame mules (mulos).

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The mules are so used to the work, they can take themselves to the unloading area.

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The cork is loaded onto a large trailer (remolque) which is secured, then driven via truck to another area.

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The cork is then sorted and weighed using large weighing scales (bascula).

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After weighing the cork, it is then thrown onto large piles (lots). Which are then driven on trucks to Portugal to be processed and turned into the cork found in wine bottles.

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A ‘cork dog’. A special dog bred to resemble and protect the cork.

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Blackbird nest in the organic vineyard

Every year the organic vineyard here at Finca del Rio attracts lots of wildlife, especially birds. This year we currently have four nests (nidos in spanish). The current visiters are Blackbirds (mirlo) who have built a nest in the rear vineyard.

Two eggs appeared towards the end of June.

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As we inspected the current grapes, we found two hatchlings sleeping, shaded from the hot sun.

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