Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

17th March will go down in our 2018 calendar as the day that spring officially started. No big deal really, except that this year the transition from winter to spring happened pretty much from one day to the next. Prior to that date (as with other parts of Europe), the weather had been quite miserable – cold and wet with daytime temperatures barely topping the mid-teens in °C (55-60°F). On 17th all that changed, the sun broke through, the temperature climbed quite dramatically, and the whole complexion of the countryside around us changed – gone were the winter jackets, time to roll up the shirt sleeves. The temperatures are now into the mid-20’s C (75-80°F).

Today’s photo is a slightly different view of our bodega vineyard. I thought that I would change the perspective a little by photographing the pergolas (and their new shoots) from below. The image is further exaggerated by using a 14mm fisheye lens, which also gives the shot a much wider angle.

Time to break out the sun screen!

Bud break 2018

April 9th, 2018

Add a comment

After months of complaining about having no rain, things have been turned on their head, whereby we are now complaining about the continued cold, damp weather.

By way of illustrating how cold it has been I thought that it might be interesting to do a comparison of vine development, to see how one or two different vintages compare. Whilst I have hundreds of photos of vines in my folders, I have carefully sorted through them to find photos taken in the very same location, at more or less the same time of year – a sort of odd ‘time lapse’ spread over several years! (It’s important that this selection was taken in exactly the same location, as different parts of each vineyard will develop at different speeds according to their exposure).

I had already noticed that vine development was slow this year, as it is only now that we are really witnessing the first signs of life – bud break. As you will see from the comparative photos (click on image to enlarge), we are probably about one or two weeks behind where we would normally be at this date. Bud break often happens during that last weeks of March, and generally speaking, by early April we can almost be at the point where some folliage starts to emerge. (The first two photos are from two previous vintages, and the final picture is 2018).

Of course, it is still very early days, and should the weather suddenly warm up then we can soon get back on track. It is not really until the flowering that we can make a true determination of when the harvest might be, but the way things stand it’s possible that it could be a late one in 2018. Vamos a ver!

Posted in Vineyards, Weather

It was only two days ago in my pruning video (made last week but posted on Monday), that I mentioned the beautiful blue skies and perfect ambient temperatures. Unfortunately, that already seems like a distant memory! When you look across Europe this morning, there are places that resemble more the Arctic Circle than they do Springtime in Paris (or Rome for that matter). The ‘Beast from the East’ (as it has been nicknamed in the UK), has brought chaos and freezing Siberian weather to huge swathes of our Continent. Whilst we don’t have any snow here on the coast of Galicia, it is certainly very much colder. Today for example, the sky is a miserable shade of grey (only one, not 50), and it is raining steadily. The air temperature is only about 4 or 5°C (around 40°F), but with high humidity, it is really quite bone chilling.

Meanwhile, our poor guys are still out in the vineyards pruning (obviously now wearing much more protection against the elements), and for the time being at least, all the small bonfires that were burning on the hillsides around the Salnés Valley, have been well and truly extinguished. I keep trying to tell myself that we need the rain, but I am muttering this through gritted teeth, or should I say, chattering teeth.

Posted in Vineyards, Weather

Today is Fat Tuesday, probably better known by it’s original French name of Gras’. Of course it is called Mardi Gras because tomorrow is Ash Wednesday – the first day of Lent, when many Christians start their 40 days of fasting in the period before Easter Sunday. Fat Tuesday therefore, is the day when Christians fill their stomachs, perhaps eating richer, fatty foods. In the UK, for some odd reason, this gorging is traditionally done with pancakes (more like crêpe than the fluffier American style pancake), and is known as Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day – rarely do we mention Mardi Gras. So, whilst the Brazilians have partying, processions, wild dancing and outrageous costumes, the British simply sit at home pigging out on pancakes!

The big shock for me here in Spain, is that Carnival (despite being widely celebrated in nearly every town and village across the land), is actually NOT a public holiday, either locally or nationally. When you stop to consider some of the very flimsy excuses that the Spanish use for partying and public holidays, the fact that Carnival (Mardi Gras) is not a holiday doesn’t really make any sense.

Of course the big difference between Galicia and Brazil is the weather. February is normally the hottest month in Rio, with average temperatures of around 27°C (81°F), whereas today in Galicia, it is absolutely pouring with rain with bone chilling humidity and temperatures of only 8°C (46°F). Anyway, no matter what you decide to eat today to fill your stomach on Fat Tuesday, I would obviously recommend a chilled glass of Castro Martin albariño to wash it down with!

January Blues

January 15th, 2018

Add a comment

It’s January, 2018, and there’s not much happening at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, we have sent out a few orders, and our guys are busy pruning in the vineyards, but other than that our days are short, dark, and now just a little bit damp too. The Christmas holiday rain has continued into the new year, and there have been a few thunderstorms. The weather has been changing quickly – one moment we have black skies, thunder, lightning and driving rain, but then, within an hour or two, the sky is almost completely clear and the sun is bursting through!

After a protracted holiday period (a common feature of the Spanish calendar) it can be difficult to regain momentum, but there is planning to be done, bottlings to be made, and of course, we mustn’t forget that our 2017 wines still need to be tasted regularly. Later in the spring we will decide the best moment for racking – removing the wine from the lees, and finally some of these tanks will be blended before they eventually become the finished article.

Within our D.O. the length of time that an albariño needs to remain on its lees before it can be called ‘Sobre Lias’ is just a little vague, although the very minimum is usually accepted to be around 3 months. Technically, this would mean that we could rack our tanks now if we wanted, but in the case of every sobre lias wine at Castro Martin, we always leave them resting for a minimum of 6-8 months, but depending on the vintage, some can be left up to a year!

 

Posted in Bodega, Weather

‘Hunch’ weather? Well, apparently this is a real word dating back to the 18th century. For example, when you have drizzle, rain or wind that makes you hunch up when you walk, then this can be described as hunch weather – at that is exactly what we have at the moment.

After months of dry weather (interspersed with just a few odd days of rain), we finally have a reasonably sustained period of wet weather. By coincidence, these recent periods of rain have coincided almost perfectly with the Spanish holidays! The holiday weekend of 8th/9th/10th December was wet and stormy, but then the sun and dry weather returned more or less until 25th December (and it has been raining ever since). Don’t get me wrong, Galicia is desperate for this rainfall, but clearly it would just be a bit fairer if it happened when we are all working… Of course these might be my ‘famous last words’ as it will probably now rain for the rest of 2018!

Posted in Weather

It’s that time of year again, as we now find ourselves busy preparing the usual last-minute gift pack orders, which, in the coming days will be distributed to different corners of Spain. Fortunately, we are in an industry where our product (apart from simply drinking), is also appreciated as a welcome gift at this time of year. (OK, I’m not going to mention that albariño works very well with turkey, because I’m sure that you find it boring that I write this every year).

“In other news” as they say, we have rain! No sooner had I written that we had no water and that our extended weekend might be sunny and dry, than everything changed. Certainly our last weekend was very wet, indeed it was stormy, with winds of 40 to 50kph driving the rain almost horizontally. With our winter days already at their shortest as we approach the solstice, it all added up to a very miserable time. Ironically, it was the first weekend of the official Christmas shopping period, when stores are allowed to open on Sunday (this part of Spain doesn’t normally allow Sunday opening), but I guess, in these treacherous conditions, people simply opted to stay at home with a warm cup of cocoa! 

Posted in Bodega, Fiestas, Weather

Mist & Mizzle

September 4th, 2017

Add a comment

Well, it looks like our first day of harvest will be put on hold, as we are shrouded in mist and mizzle. Mizzle is a combination of very fine drenching drizzle or extremely fine rain and thick, heavy saturating mist or fog. It hangs in the air, rather than falling like real rain, and it’s especially annoying after a couple of days of warm sunshine. To be fair, the forecast (or at least one or two of them), said that it could happen, but they also predict that by tomorrow it will be gone. I will consult my weather stone tomorrow morning, and all being well, we will start.

Posted in Harvest, Weather

Heatwave?

August 5th, 2017

Add a comment

For the last four or five days Lucifer has been sweeping across Europe (but don’t worry, I don’t mean that we have been overtaken by devil worship, it’s simply the nickname given to the recent spell of excessively hot weather). You may have read in the press or seen on TV that parts of Spain and Italy have been enduring temperatures of between 40 and 45°C (105-115°F). Severe weather warnings have been issued…. but not here in Galicia. The last couple of days here have been very, very grey and overcast (see photo) with long periods of drizzle, and temperatures of the low-to-mid 20’sC (70-75°F). This is not ideal weather for growing grapes, but at least the forecast is for improvement in the next day or so.

Just a quick anecdote on this subject if I may. The BBC was interviewing a British family on holiday in Cyprus, where the temperature had reached 43°C, and people had been advised to stay indoors during the afternoon. The interviewer asked what precautions the father had taken to protect his two young daughters, and I’m not sure if his response was typical British phlegm or just plain stupid – “we have put on sunscreen and are eating lots of ice cream.” In ‘Britspeak’ this means “I’ve paid for this sunshine, and by God, I’m going to enjoy it (whatever the possible consequences)!”

Posted in Pre-harvest, Weather

I should start by explaining that when we sell our wines within Spain then our sales tariff usually includes the cost of transport. However, for exporting goods to other countries then the story is the complete opposite – we never arrange transport for the orders of our export customers.

Unfortunately, this sometimes leaves us with a bit of a conundrum. When we are hit with a heatwave (as we have been for the last few days, with temperatures well into the 30’s C (90’s F)), then the question arises, who is responsible for making the decision whether to load the truck or not? Who will be liable if something goes wrong and the wine is damaged? The fact is that we have only a couple of long-haul customers who regularly take precautions when it comes to the temperature control of wine in transit, whereas the vast majority simply rely on normal road trailers or containers (and keep their fingers crossed!). However, if goods are crossing Europe on a two or three day odyssey when the temperatures are excessive, then this is clearly not the best way to keep our product fresh. (In our history there have been only a couple of occasions when pallets have been left exposed and corks have been pushed from the bottles – both beyond our control).

From our side the answer is simple – if we think that the weather’s too hot then we inform our customer, and allow them to take the decision – I think it’s called covering your ****!

(Today’s photo shows a container protected with a Vinliner – not the ultimate type of protection, which is full refrigeration, but certainly offering some degree of temperature control)