There is a National transport strike in Spain starting this weekend, and we are not sure exactly how long it will last, or more importantly, what the knock-on effects will be. Hopefully, most of our customers will have received notification that this was about to happen, albeit that we were not able to give too much warning.

Whilst we did not have lorries exactly queueing at the door to get wine out, we have still had a very busy week, and our best effort was turning around a 400 case export order in less than 24 hours – from the time that the order was received, including packing and paperwork etc, to the time that is was collected by the transporter. Not bad going….

So, all collections have now been made, and we are closing our doors for the weekend. On Monday we will know better how life has been affected, and as always, we will do our best to keep you informed.

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I’m afraid to admit that today’s post is more like history rather than news – it should have been written several days ago. We have been almost completely without power for the last two and a half days – no phones, no fax, no computers, no e-mail- in other words, at peace with the world. I therefore apologise to those of you who may have been trying to contact us. I simply should have warned you beforehand, rather than after the event.

So this is how it came about:

I think I may have mentioned last September (during our harvest), that we were having fun and games with our electrical supply – we simply did not have sufficient power to meet the demand of all our equipment. It was almost a case of turning off one appliance in order to be able to supply another! The problem, we were told, was in the Bodega itself – our poor old wiring system was just not up to the job, and it was clear that something needed to be done to avoid a repeat this year.

Although the job was planned some time ago, we have, believe it or not, been waiting for a window in the weather. The electricians needed to run a new cable into the Bodega from an outside junction box, and I am reliably informed that electricity and rain water is not a good combination…..

This week the sun has come out, which was not only good for our electrics, but much more importantly might have helped to save the flowering, which to date has been struggling in the poor conditions. Using our ‘agricultural calculator’ we have worked out that this will almost certainly result in a late harvest (around the end of September).

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I think it was back in November of last year that I wrote about Galicia being the driest place in Spain. Well, perhaps I was tempting fate, because the Spring of 2008 has turned out to be quite cool and damp – in other words, back to normal.

In the last couple of months there has not been a single week that has been completely dry (well, actually, there may have been one), and the temperature has only rarely ventured above 20°C (68°F). Indeed the average daytime temperatures for the last 8-10 weeks have been more within the 14°-18°C range.

After a dry winter, it is probably fair to say that we need the rainfall, but as we approach the all-important flowering period, we now require a bit of sustained sunshine and warmth.

I selected the photograph above for a couple of reasons. Firstly, to show off our new tractor at work, and secondly, to highlight the downside of our damp, humid Galician climate – the need to spray. You will also note that the grass in the vineyard is in need of a good trim, but first things first – we need to take care of our vines!

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If you are planning to visit us at any point in the future, there is now a much easier way to find us – using Google Maps TM.

By far the the most direct way to locate us is to go to the Google Maps page, click on the tab that says ‘Search Businesses’, and then you will be presented with two boxes: ‘What’ and ‘Where’. Simply type in ‘Bodegas Castro Martin’, and then either ‘Pontevedra’ or Ribadumia’ (both will work).

With the click of a button you will be shown a detailed map of where to find us – but not only that – you can also ‘Get Directions’ from anywhere in the world, by simply typing in your ‘Start Address’.

Why not have a look now by clicking this link?

This new map feature is also included in an update of our main website, which incorporates a new page on the ‘Environment’ (looking at green issues) and an update of recent vintage information. www.castromartin.com

By the way, our super rich customers will still be able to locate us in their private helicopters by using Google Earth…..

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Word soup? Scrabble?

Nearly six weeks ago I wrote about the painters applying a new lick of paint to the front of the Bodega. Well, they finally completed the job at the beginning of last week, which was just as well…. On Thursday we received a call from the sign makers saying that they wanted to come to fix the new logo to the wall. They had originally promised May 5th, so naturally I was thrilled that they were prepared to install on May 9th!

The installation team arrived at the appointed time, around mid-day, in bright sunshine. The first step, and probably the most complicated, was to set up the templates of exactly where the letters would be positioned (hopefully central to the wall, and in a straight line!). No sooner had they got these paper templates aligned, when it started to rain, completely contrary to the local forecast. I actually joked with them that it was lucky that the paper they had used was plasticised, otherwise two or three hours of precise calculation could have ended up as a soggy mess on the floor. So, to cut a long story short, after a few more hours of drilling and gluing (or perhaps cementing) the new logo was finally fitted – and what an excellent job they did! The Bodega is now looking quite resplendent and will hopefully give our visitors a good impression, in keeping with the quality of wine that they will find inside…..

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Re-cycling

May 10th, 2008

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Re-cycling?… Sorted!

At the beginning of the year I wrote an entry in our blog about ‘Green Issues’ (the Environment) and how we work hard in our vineyards to be as ecologically friendly as possible. This is, of course, only half the story, as this work continues inside the Bodega too (albeit that the effects of this are much more difficult to quantify). Whilst we have no official accreditation, we are extremely pro-active on many different environmental fronts.

Angela is probably the most obsessive person I know when it comes to re-cycling ,and so it goes without saying that we have re-cycling bins throughout the bodega, and for every type of material – wood, glass, metal, paper, plastic and organics. Bottles that we open in the cellar for tastings (or even drinking at home) are carefully washed and re-filled at bottling (although these are not re-used for customer orders). Even our cardboard cartons are re-cycled if they are not too dirty or damaged.

The bottling line is probably the greatest generator of waste materials. The packing materials from bottles, corks, capsules etc are carefully separated (mostly cardboard and plastics) and then taken to the local re-cycling centre the following day.

In order to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible, we now use different ordering patterns for our ‘dry goods’, which in turn reduces the number of deliveries that we require. For example, bottles are now taken in full truck loads, and corks in full pallets (giving us enough materials to bottle three of our 9,000 litre tanks). As you can easily calculate, this reduces the number of deliveries to us by 66%. Cartons, capsules and labels are ordered in a similar way, with savings of between 50 and 66%.

So hopefully you can see that, in our own humble way, we do try make a contribution to preserve our environment.

Footnote: Please also note that our Albariño is suitable for vegetarians as we do not use any meat derived products during handling or vinification.

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Who was it once said, ‘the best way to make a small fortune in the wine business, is to start off with a very large one!’

It has to be said that running a wine cellar is an expensive business, not only buying the materials, and making the wine, but also the long-term upkeep of the building and machinery. It really boils down to re-investment – no pocketing of profits and flying off to the Bahamas for luxury breaks. Our luxury for this year?…… Buying a new tractor!

So, after re-furbishing the front of the Bodega and installing a new logo, comes our latest investment. A brand, spanking-new tractor to replace the old one (which has just celebrated it’s 16th birthday, ‘a good innings’ as the English would say). Included in the purchase is a new crop sprayer, that we are re-assured will be much more efficient, and therefore reduce even further the amount of treatment that we need to use.

I thought I would grab a few photos of the new ‘beast’ before we apply the requisite coating of mud.
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In another salvo, this time from the Royal College of Physicians, the subject of responsible drinking in the UK has once again come under scrutiny. On this occasion pubs and bars have been criticised for increasing their measure sizes, simply for the purpose of boosting profit margins.

In the official table of alcohol units used by the UK’s DrinkAware campaign, a standard glass of wine is considered to be 125ml (six glasses to the bottle). However, only 16% of licensed premises say that this is now their standard measure, whereas up to 73% say that the new standard has increased to 175ml. In some cases glasses of 250ml are being served, which equates to one third of a bottle in every drink!

It is rare that wine drinking finds itself the spotlight, but if these statistics are to be believed, then there is probably reasonable cause for concern.

For those of you worried by your personal intake, our Albarino (with 12,5% Alcohol), yields only 1,6 units per 125ml glass, and 9,4 units per bottle.
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The real Fujitsu-Siemens stand

Time to come clean…… here is the definition:

April Fools’ Day or All Fools’ Day, though not a holiday in its own right, is a notable day celebrated in many countries on April 1st. The day is marked by the commission of hoaxes and other practical jokes of varying sophistication on friends, enemies and neighbours, or sending them on fools’ errands, the aim of which is to mislead or trick the unwary.

OK, so you spotted the joke.

Whilst we might be a reasonably successful Bodega, we are certainly not mega-rich, and would simply not be able to afford such an enormous pavilion at Prowein. In fact, the real truth is, that we did not even attend (as we opted to go to Alimentaria instead)

Pfallioor GmbH is of course a crude anagram of April Fool GmbH!

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Baby Christian

A few of you who deal with our Bodega on a regular basis might know that Luisa (who administers our accounts) and her husband Fran (who takes care of the bodega) were expecting their first child.

Last Friday 28th March, Luisa gave birth to a healthy, bouncing baby boy named Christian. If this young man ever decides at some point in the future that he wants to work at Castro Martin, then he will be the third generation of Luisa’s family to do so – Luisa’s father Luis, also worked for us prior to his retirement two years ago.

Mother and baby are both doing very well, and indeed only yesterday (on his first visit to the Bodega), we gave young Christian his first taste of Albariño. We were not encouraged by his reaction:

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