Like peas in a pod!

June 5th, 2020 | Vineyards

I confess that I have been rather distracted by Covid news over the last few weeks, mainly because not too much else has been happening elsewhere. I now realise however, that I have completely neglected the single most important event in our vine growing calendar…. the flowering!

I am happy to tell you that our flowering passed almost perfectly, largely because May turned out to be a dry and quite sunny month. During the last week it was actually very hot, with temperatures well into the 30’s °C (86+ °F). At the end of it all it appears that there might be just a few less bunches than last year, but it’s still early days and a lot can still happen over the coming months.

As there is not really too much to look at in the vineyard, I decided to make a small collage to show the evolution of flowering. The left hand picture (at the end of May), shows the flowering itself. The middle shot (taken a day or two ago), is shortly after the flowering where the berries are just starting to develop and become recognisable. And the right hand picture shows how the bunches will look in a few weeks, when the berries have developed into small peas (before they eventually swell and change colour).

Social Distancing – Seaside style!

May 28th, 2020 | Covid 19

In the bodega we are waiting with anticipation for the restaurant industry to slowly get back on it’s feet. The restaurant sector is, by far, our biggest source of income. This is clearly going to take some time and, in the circumstances, we have no alternative but to be patient and sit it out. Our activity, as before, is focused almost entirely on the vineyards.

Meanwhile, on the pandemic front, one mayor in a local seaside resort is preparing for what he hopes will be a long overdue influx of visitors over the coming weeks. He has taken the initiative to extend the idea of social distancing to the beach!

Whilst I understand and respect his intention, it somehow seems just a little excessive. His plans is to divide the beach into segments using wooden posts and ropes, as you can see in today’s photo. Admittedly these small divisions will only be used by the people that hire sun loungers and parasols, but even so, I still think that the whole thing is just a little bit ‘over the top’. In my opinion we should simply rely a bit more on common sense rather than roping beachgoers off and herding them into small cattle pens!

Galicia update

May 22nd, 2020 | Bodega

During these difficult times it can be really difficult to find something positive and upbeat to write about. The television news has become somewhat boring and repetitive, as there is clearly only one story that people want to talk about… I will not mention it by name for the sake of my own sanity!

Meanwhile, the good news is that in Spain we are now enjoying our increased levels of freedom, and together with a bit a warm sunshine, this is certainly helping to lift our spirits. Work is of course, continuing in our vineyards, and recent  periods of rain and sunshine have served to provoke some quite vigorous growth. The downside of these the warm and humid conditions is that some spraying has been necessary in order to reduce the risk of potential disease.

Finally, on a more positive note, pallets have been packed and dispatched to the U.S.A.! Of course, they will take some time to cross the Atlantic and so we can only assume that our importer feels that the re-opening of their market is imminent. We hope that this level of renewed optimism might be contagious, not only in the U.S., but also in our other export markets around the world. Having said that, for the moment at least,we all need to remain patient.

Bodega update

May 13th, 2020 | Bodega

As one or two countries slowly start to emerge from this horrific pandemic, world leaders are now scratching their heads trying to figure out what the next safe step out of lockdown might be. They are all searching for the elusive road map that will lead us towards what has now become known as the “new normal” (whatever that might be). It seems that every Government is waiting to see who will make the first move, and when they do, what the result/consequence might be. Suffice to say that there is a lot of indecision and procrastination, and in many cases, where guidelines have be set out, regrettably they can still be ambiguous and are not always clear.

Of course, certain industries have been particularly hard hit, the restaurant sector being just one of them. In many markets the re-opening of restaurants is perhaps still a month or two away, and when they eventually do, there will be crippling restrictions applied as to how they can operate.

For example, the problem with a reduced-capacity opening (especially in cities with high rent areas), is that unless places are say, perhaps 80% full, then they will probably be making a loss. Therefore, if restaurants do get the green light to re-open, but with distancing in place (and Government support withdrawn), then many outlets will be forced to stay closed to avoid racking up massive losses. It’s a real conundrum…

 

Free at last!

May 4th, 2020 | Covid 19

After no less than 7 weeks in confinement, without any opportunity to exercise or take fresh air (unless visits to the supermarket are included), Spain was finally opened up – albeit just a little. The government has now produced a timetable to allow outdoor exercise, but for limited hours and separated by age group. Under 14’s and over 70’s are able to enjoy freedom during the middle of the day, from 1oam until 8pm, whilst everyone between these ages are limited to two periods – from 6am to 10am and then between 8pm to 11pm. In a system that seems to be overly complicated, the first couple of days has seen considerable congestion during the early period and late periods. During the middle of the day, the streets are, by contrast, relatively quiet. However, as soon as the clock turns 8pm then the evening ‘rush hour’ begins and the streets are soon thronging (certainly when compared to how they have been).

Meanwhile, in the bodega, the pandemic has perhaps thrown up one small benefit. Our online business is doing better than ever before! I have a feeling that Spanish people have always been a little reluctant to shop on the internet, but maybe, owing to the limited choices they have faced over recent weeks, they have decided to give it a try. Of course, we have our fingers crossed that this trend will continue long after the current crisis is over…

By the way, today’s photo shows a dedicated walker who managed to find a little solitude on the beach early this morning.

Albariño with….. crisps (potato chips)?

April 27th, 2020 | Food & Wine

Just when you think you’ve seen it all!

I’ve talked about food and wine pairings many times before, but never anything like this. I have recently read an article about pairing wine with crisps (or as our American friends call them, potato chips)! Not only does the article make a comparison with generic salted crisps, but actually considers a number of different flavours, and recommends a different wine, or wines, with each one!

Now you can call me a wine snob, but pairing wine with different flavours of potato chips? Really?

For me, the only valuable thing that this comparison will highlight, is how the flavour of any wine can be altered completely by different foods (albeit that in this case we are actually talking about artificial food flavourings). Of course, it would not be uncommon to perhaps nibble a few crisps with a glass of wine as a pre-dinner aperitif, but I would never dream as to go as far as trying to make a ‘food’ and wine pairing! Perhaps if we were talking about tapas with wine, that would be more understandable, but a bag of sour cream and onion, or barbecue flavoured crisps? Well, for me that’s just a step too far.

By the way, albariño is recommended with salt & vinegar crisps!

Lock down ~ what does it mean?

April 19th, 2020 | Covid 19

OK, so the subject of lock down has nothing to do with wine, but it is still a topic of interest to almost everybody, everywhere at the moment.

How is it defined, and what should it mean? Certainly it seems that during this crisis, there are some widely differing ideas of how it is adopted, and perhaps more importantly, how it should be enforced.

Here in Spain we have been under a full lock down for more than a month. Opportunities to leave home are few, and these are strictly controlled – there are both police and army patrols, and fines are issued to transgressors, as simple as that. No latitude is afforded for exercise, except for those with dogs, and only essential shopping is allowed – food and pharmacy.

By contrast, lock down in the UK appears to be much softer, albeit that recent guidelines issued by the police have, if anything, confused the definition even more. It seems that there are now so many potential loopholes that it could make the thorny issue of enforcement even more complicated.

Of course, as no one has any previous experience of this particular pandemic, it is difficult to say which approach can, or will be the most effective. The problem is that whilst we are all still desperate to learn, the number of victims is growing day-by-day and only history will reveal who has made the most beneficial choices.

Abandoned!

April 15th, 2020 | Bodega

After more than a month of complete lockdown, life in Spain is a very long way from anything that resembles normality. Although we are, technically, allowed to continue working, there is really not too much happening in the bodega – with the exception of the vineyards, where work continues as normal. With the hotel and restaurant industry at a complete standstill, not only in Spain, but around the world, there is almost no turnover of stock. I guess the fortunate part is that, in the short term, our wine will not deteriorate and will still be available to sell once the markets recover. Perhaps the only significant consequence could be that, depending on how long our sales are curtailed, that we might need to adjust the volume of wine that we make in 2020. This is more to do with tank space than anything else.

In the wine cellar itself we are constantly reminded about how quickly the lockdown took effect. Shortly before it all started we had just embarked on a programme of upgrades to our equipment and infrastructure. For example, replacing all windows in the bodega was put on hold, as was work on an upgrade to our temperature control system. In the tank cooling system were are adding digital sensors and touch screen controls (with remote access), to give us greater control and the potential to monitor temperatures from home during fermentation. (I should quickly add that we do not work from home during the harvest, but we do occasionally go home to sleep!) Suffice to say that tools were quite literally ‘downed’ as we more or less abandoned the cellar, and we can only hope that work will be resumed, and completed in time for the next harvest!

(Vine) Life goes on…

April 2nd, 2020 | Green Issues

Despite business grinding to a halt, there are some elements of what we do that carry on as normal. Our vines, for example, continue to grow, pandemic or no pandemic.

With the pruning and attaching to the wires now complete, we start on general vineyard maintenance – small, but yet, significant chores. These include removing any unwanted growth (for example, small shoots that start to grow out of the main trunk of the vine), removing snails (that climb and devour the new shoots), and attaching new pheromone traps (this eco-friendly trap uses synthetic pheromones to cause confusion and diverting mating insects away from the vines). In addition to this, and largely depending on what the weather does over the next week or two, will also determine if any treatments are needed, but clearly we still have to monitor the vineyards closely to assess what is needed.

(Today’s photo not only shows the current vine development, but also shows one of our pheromone traps)

Treating the streets

March 26th, 2020 | Bodega

Whilst Spain is almost at the end of its second week of lock down, the news is still very grim – in the last 48 hours we have seen the death toll increase to nearly 700 per day. Obviously it is the most populous areas, such as Madrid, that have been hit the worst, and locals were very worried when, shortly prior to the lock down, hundreds of Madridlenos decided to flee the city to seek refuge out in their Galician summer homes. Apart from the obvious health risk, the infrastructure (now in winter mode), was, and is, simply not geared up for this sudden influx of visitors. Supermarkets were stripped bare (in a country where panic buying hasn’t really been an issue at all).

Our streets are completely deserted, but today they were frequented by a rather unusual type of vehicle; a farm tractor with treatment tank being used for spraying the streets – presumably with disinfectant, and not a treatment for protecting grapes! Probably just as well there were no pedestrians….

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