Archive for the ‘Bodega’ Category

For the last couple of months I have been hinting in my posts about something new coming to Castro Martin – and finally it’s here – a new label!

A label? Is that all? So why all the fuss? I hear you ask. Well, the answer is quite simple –  the fuss is because this is something of an historic change.

The very first, and original brand of the new era (since the current bodega was built in 1981), is Casal Caeiro, created by Angela’s father some 35 years ago. (The Martin Family had been making albariño long before this, but mainly for local consumption, without labels, before labels were a legal requirement). Since it’s inception the Casal Caeiro label has slowly evolved and appeared in many different guises, but until now they have always had one thing in common – the Pazo vineyard had always appeared on the label.

In a break with tradition we decided to employ the services of local artist Elena Gomez Dahlgren to come up with something different (and original), and I think that her new design idea is both unique and spectacular. A quadriptych – a set of four labels that when displayed side-by-side join to form one larger picture.

The new 2016 vintage, using this presentation, is available from this week (albeit that our website will take a little time to catch up). New photos already appear on our webpages, and updated fiche and bottle shots are also available. In addition to this, we will eventually add more information about the inspiration behind the design, and also about our artist, but in the meantime you will simply need to buy some wine to see this work of art first hand. Oh, and by the way, you will need to buy at least four bottles to see the complete design!

The wall

June 7th, 2017

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OK, so maybe not the most exciting news, but the extension to our grape reception area continues. I should add that all the work is being carried out ‘in-house’, by our own guys – so we can just add ‘builders’ to the list of jobs that they are already able to do. Oh, and by the way, and when I say build, I mean BUILD! The way these guys construct things, they are not going to fall down in a hurry. The retaining wall they they are adding now is not only supported by steel rebar, but will then be strengthened by a pour of concrete. Barring natural disasters, it will be around long after I’m gone.

I guess the only drawback is that they do have other jobs to fit in around the construction, both in the vineyards, and in the bodega. Tomorrow for example, we will be bottling the first of our 2016 wines (I will comment about that later), so I think it would be fair to say that at least they don’t suffer from boredom!

Posted in Bodega, Harvest

Reception floorWork in the bodega is already underway to prepare for the 2017 harvest!

At peak times during nearly every harvest our grape reception area can be stretched to the limit, and this can, potentially, cause delays in getting fruit into the presses. It’s really just a question of space – moving grapes through in a strict rotation, ensuring that different parcels are not mixed, and that presses are loaded to their optimum capacity. When the reception is completely full it’s possible to experience a bit of a log-jam, and it then becomes a huge game of chess maneuvering grapes into the correct position!

The solution however, is quite simple – expand the floor area to give us more space to work. At the same time it is our intention to install a case washing machine, meaning that we can re-cycle clean cases more quickly and make the whole reception process more efficient. The construction itself is not too difficult, simply raising the floor from ground level so that it meets the raised (vehicle unloading) level.

The first step (as you can see in today’s photo) is to fill the floor space with rocks and ballast. I will update our progress over the coming weeks.

Posted in Bodega, Harvest

Final clueOver the last two or three months I have dropped a few clues about something new happening in the bodega. The launch of whatever this might be is imminent, and so I thought I would add one final clue before we make it official.

As you may know, I am quite a keen amateur photographer, and many of the photographs that you see both on our website and on our social media pages are taken by me. It is however, rare to see me at work, but in today’s picture (working on our new project), I have been captured in the act, so to speak. On a few previous occasions when I have been taking photos I have caught myself in a mirror or perhaps in some type of reflection, but it is really odd to actually see how others perceive me when I am working…. the photographer’s photograph, if that makes any sense?

Anyway, in a couple of weeks we will be making an official announcement about our closely guarded secret, so watch this space, as they say.

CeilingAt this this time of year there’s not usually too much happening in the bodega, which is just one of the reasons that we chose to travel (having just arrived back from our epic tour of the USA). Our main winter chore of pruning is pretty much at an end, and so many of our efforts have been focused on the wine cellar itself where we have been undertaking a huge programme of repairs, cleaning, painting and also a little construction. Much of this work was carried out during our travels, hence, upon our return, we immediately noticed some big changes. The most dramatic change was actually in one of our storage areas, where the ceiling was completely replaced.

Today’s photo must qualify as possibly one of the most boring I have ever posted, but I can tell you that it is really difficult to make a flat, grey roof, look exciting in a picture! It shows our carton storage area which has been completely transformed (albeit mostly from an aesthetic point of view). Having said that, visitors to our cellar will probably not notice any difference – after all, when was the last time you really looked up at the ceiling of any building (unless perhaps it was the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel)? Perhaps we can give Fran a tin of emulsion and ask him to paint a few frescos depicting life in our bodega!

Posted in Bodega, Odds & Sods

LanguageLet me start by admitting that my Spanish is quite appalling. Considering that I been living in this country for so long it is clear that I should be speaking the language like a native (well, maybe not Galician, but certainly Castellano). The truth is that I am lazy, and I expect everyone in our office to speak perfect English like what I do! Our guys in the bodega, maybe not, but our office team certainly. My other problem is that I have satellite channels on my TV – in English, and so even when I am at home I am not learning any new vocabulary……

I’m happy to say that Paula (who is comparatively new to our office), is setting the example by attending English classes to improve her understanding. OK, so she is a good deal younger than me, and still benefits from the mental capacity to learn new things, whilst I conveniently cower behind the old adage of “old dog, new tricks”.

She explained to me that she recently had an exam of her spoken English, and so I asked her how it went. I was a bit surprised when she told me that the subjects allocated for this conversation (with no prior warning) were ‘consumerism in developed versus old economies’ and the ‘pros and cons of volutarism’. Wow! Even as a fluent English speaker (more or less!), I think that even I would struggle with these subjects, not to mention that it really requires quite a bit of specialised vocabulary in order to cope well.

To be honest I thought it slightly ridiculous, and that it would make far more sense to allocate topics more closely related to our daily lives. Of course, I can also add this example to my list of excuses for not attending Spanish classes!!

Posted in Bodega, Odds & Sods

January update

January 11th, 2017

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RebajasIf you thought that January might be a quiet time in the bodega then you would be wrong. Of course we have the usual year-end admin to take care of…. (Luisa for example, is super busy closing the accounts for 2016, and to make matters worse, is also suffering from a horrible winter cold), but there is also a lot more activity taking place both inside and outside the building.

Thankfully, many of our customers are replenishing their stocks after the holidays, and so we are now very busy making pallets (very nice for helping our cash-flow at what is traditionally a very lean time of year). Consequently we have to plan more bottling, and so we have now embarked on a programme of passing wine through the cold-stabilisation process (in order to prevent the finished wine from precipitating tartrate crystals in the bottle). Once this process is complete, in about two weeks time, we will make one final adjustment to the sulphur, and then bottle the wine ready for shipping.

In the vineyards we have pretty much perfect weather for pruning – dry and cold, but mostly sunny. In fact, if anything this winter has been far too dry. After the hot, dry summer of 2016, we really do need more rain to replenish the water table. Winters in Galicia are often cold, wet and miserable, our problem is that, so far, this winter just hasn’t been wet and miserable enough!

Holiday Season

December 6th, 2016

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HolidaysWhen it comes to holidays, both national and local,then Spain must enjoy one of the most generous allocations in the world. There are nearly a dozen National holidays each year, interspersed with a handful of local holidays, some regional, and others allocated at town or village level. In the context of organising our business, it’s sometimes difficult to know who’s working and who’s not…

December and January have quite a number of festivos, starting today, 6th December, with día de la Constitución, honouring the constitution of the country. On Thursday 8th December we have the Inmaculada Concepción – one of the most important Marian feast days in the calendar of the Catholic Church.

This year these two holidays fall on the most difficult days possible – Tuesdays and Thursday, meaning that, in theory at least, businesses would only be open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Bridge days (joining holidays together, or tagging them onto a weekend) are very common, but on this occasion where would you add an extra bridge day – unless you decide to close for the whole week? However, it’s a busy time of year to even contemplate this.

At Castro Martin we will close on Wednesday, meaning that we have a two day working week, on Monday and Friday only. Sounds good, but to be honest, it’s really just a bit untimely.

Posted in Bodega, Fiestas, Weather

A time for giving

November 29th, 2016

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Gift packsNo sooner have we got our International shipping orders loaded and on the road, than we start with the slightly more modest (but equally as important), gift orders for the holiday season. As you might expect much of our ‘gift’ business is in the local Galician market, as local businesses send tokens of their appreciation to customers at the end of the year.

To be very honest making three bottle gift packs (see today’s photo) can be a bit fiddly and time consuming. Over the years we have tried many different types of ‘estuches’ (as they are known in Spanish), but not based purely on how good they look or how much they cost. We also have to take into consideration how complicated, and therefore, how much time it will take to assemble each empty case. Quite frankly some of them can be like a work of origami, and subsequently have to be avoided. We always have to take into account the simple equation: Time=Money!

Posted in Bodega, Business, Fiestas

Christmas rushNow that both the harvest and wine making are pretty much behind us, the next significant event is almost upon us – the Christmas holiday season (am I still allowed to call it Christmas?). Anyway, whichever name you decide to use, the holiday season (including Thanksgiving), is always a busy time for us.

For the last week or two we have been busy preparing orders for shipment – many to Europe, but others for more distant shores. Part of our pre-harvest preparation is to fill the cellar with ‘floor stock’, labelled and ready to go, but much of this has already been sold, and so for the next few weeks our mission will be bottling more tanks of 2015 wine to replenish our depleted warehouse. (We bottle our wine throughout the year, as required, to keep the wine as fresh as possible – it keeps better in tank).

Posted in Bodega, Business, Fiestas