It’s springtime in the vineyard, with the first signs of grapes appearing.
Finca del Rio Andalucia, andalusia, cortes de la frontera, de-stemmer, Finca del Rio, grape harvest, grapes, La Canada del Real Tesoro, muslin cloth, stalks, Syrah, tempranillo, Vendimia, vines, vineyard, wine, wine bottle, wine harvest 2018, wine making 0
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.
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.
The stalks are collected from the machine, then later are put back onto the vineyard as compost.
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.
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.
The tempranillo tank during punch down and maceration.
To control the temperature of the fermentation, bottles of ice are used to cool the grape juice. These are replaced at intervals.
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.
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.
Each year the harvest follows the same pattern so here are a few pictures showing the 2013 harvest which was a bumper year.
We had 32 people helping and harvested approx 2,200 kilos/litres.
The grapes started fermentation almost immediately.
In early February, every year, we cut the vines of all cordons and stems, except those that enable the plant to achieve a better shape or better yield of grapes. If the older wood that forms the Y-shape is low down, weak or badly formed, it can be replaced by bending over another cordon and cutting away the old wood.
This year we have tried three ways of cutting to see which way produces good grape yield, keeps the vine healthy and avoids mildew or mold on the grapes and leaves. We are also lowering the irrigation pipes so that watering does not cause humidity along the line of foliage and grapes.
We cut some lines of vines very close to the trunk and kept the old wood that forms the Y-shape but took off any growths or spurs, so that the plants had a smoother look. We had heard that this could lead to a ‘blinding’ of buds and maybe the vines would not produce much. We cut this way because the vines were starting to look ‘lumpy’ due to buds left to grow on the previous years spurs. Also we heard that the ‘sangre’ or sap goes into each spur and gets blocked and does not run freely when there are three or four spurs.
Most of the vineyard was cut leaving two buds on each spur, each branch having 4 or 5 such spurs, some less. This does leave the Y-shape branches looking lumpy until bud-burst. Any growth underneath is cut away so only spurs on top remain.
Four lines were cut to new wood by a friend, Pablo, who has vineyards near Ronda. He was interested to see that if by cutting away most of the old wood on the 2 sides of the Y-shape and just leaving one cordon bent down on each side that here would be more and better grapes. Problem here is that sometimes the chosen cordon cannot be bent down or snaps. There a few plants with tape-wrapped branches! The Y-shape also looks odd with thick wood leading to thin cordons. The sap or ‘sangre’ will have no problem reaching along each branch as there are no spurs.
Its early April and there is bud-burst all over the vineyard. The close cut vines have less bud-burst, the new wood cut vines have more and the two-bud cut vines have most. We will see how it looks when the canopy forms and how the grapes then form on the three types of cutting.