Harvest 2023 – Day 12

September 15th, 2023 | Bodega

So, it seems like the end of the 2023 marathon has finally arrived. It has been a campaign fraught with difficulties, starting with the technical problems of our two very first presses, to our steadily depleting picking team (towards the end). To be brutally honest it has been long and exhausting and I’m sure that every single member of our team will be looking forward to getting home and putting their feet up – I can hear the sighs of relief from every side!

Of course, as I explain ever year, on the final day, we have to wait until every grape is inside the bodega and weighed before we can load the final presses. Obviously we don’t want to be left with an odd pallet of grapes that we can’t press. The minimum capacity of our smallest press is 3,000 kg and so every kilo has to be calculated and evenly distributed to make full loads.

Early assessment of the wine is good, supported by well balanced analyses from our lab. Good concentration of fruit, surprising viscous (despite the recent rains), albeit with an average alcohol a little lower than last year. We estimate somewhere between 12% and 12.5%.

Now that everything is done in the vineyards our undivided attention shifts to the cellar, seeding and monitoring fermentations for the next couple of weeks.

Harvest 2023 – Day 11

September 13th, 2023 | Bodega

Well, we’re still here…. the harvest that keeps giving and giving, which is actually a euphemism for saying ‘never ending’. After so many days I feel like I am running out of things to say.

The weather is good, and our (smallish) team of pickers are working flat out to try to bring this year’s campaign to an end. As I have mentioned in one of my previous posts there is an acute shortage of experienced people this year. Luckily the core or our picking team are very loyal to us and work extremely hard. Unfortunately other bodegas have not been quite so lucky. We hear tales of groups abandoning the job mid-harvest as they discover that a neighbouring bodega is paying a euro or two more. These days it feels like the main consequence of these things is always financial – last year bodegas were obliged to pay a top price for their grapes, whereas this year it is for the pickers. Post Covid we have been hit with every possible type of increase. Grapes, pickers, transport and every single element of our packaging, all at a time when end consumers have much tighter budgets to work with.

I think I mentioned that many of our pickers also work in the sea, gathering seafood. The evidence of this is clear when you see their improvised lunch table. On an upturned grape case, they set up their small stoves and today, tuck into one of my very favourite types of shellfish – razor clams, or ‘navajas’ as they are known locally.

Despite the slow progress outside, our work inside the cellar continues as more tanks are seeded.


Harvest 2023 – Day 10

September 12th, 2023 | Bodega

It looks like the bad weather is finally behind us, and so we should now simply be able to concentrate on final days of harvest and winemaking.

On the subject of winemaking, today is a very busy day down in our tank room. Racking several tanks and seeding three more, which for a bodega of our size means a lot of work. The racking process is comparatively simple, as I have explained many times in the past. The ‘seeding’ process (adding yeast to support the fermentation), is, by contrast, quite a long and drawn out procedure when done correctly.

The first phase of seeding is to rehydrate the yeast, very much as you would do in baking. Simply add water, at body temperature (about 37°C or 98°F), and leave for at least 10 minutes (left hand photo). Once the yeast is rehydrated we start to add grape must from the tank, bringing down the temperature in small increments. To goal is to reduce the yeast mixture to within about 5°C of the tank that we are seeding. For example, if the tank to be seeded is at 15°C, we need to reduce the yeast mixture to about 20°C before we can add it to the tank. The problem is that we cannot simply add the cool grape must to the yeast in one go, a huge and sudden change of temperature would simply kill the yeast. This is why we add the grape must slowly, bit by bit, stopping between additions to allow the yeast to recover. During this process, and once the first grape juice is added to the warm yeast mixture, it immediately reacts with the sugar and produces a thick foam (sometimes depending on the strain of yeast used). The two middle pictures show the foam, and the last picture is an artwork by Angela, adding the initials of our business!

Harvest 2023 – Day 9

September 11th, 2023 | Bodega

To be honest, I wasn’t sure whether to call this Day 8 or Day 9 of our harvest. Yesterday, apart from some work in the cellar, our picking was halted for bad weather. Forecasts on Friday said that we should expect heavy rain for most of the day, whereas the reality was that it rained during the night, but by mid-morning it had stopped and then remained completely dry (and even quite sunny by the afternoon). Having said that, it was good to give our people a rest, as with a smaller team, they have all been working that bit harder.

On a bright sunny Sunday morning we re-launched our campaign, with the hope that in a couple of days we should be finished (hopefully sometime between now and Christmas!!).

Today we picked one or two of our smaller, more local vineyards (probably just over 1km from the bodega). Using a combination of tractors, vans and a small truck we actually managed to move everything into our grape reception quite quickly. With the presses working all afternoon the end result was that our bodega team did not need to work half of the night, and they were probably all at home, safely tucked up in bed by midnight!

Harvest 2023 – Day 7

September 9th, 2023 | Bodega

Grapes harvesting vehicles come in all shapes and sizes

Today we are seeding our first tanks. After a day to chill the tanks and a couple more of  ‘cold settling’ they are then racked into clean tanks. At this point the temperature of the grape must is quite low, indeed, too low to start or sustain fermentation, and so consequently we need to wait until they recover sufficiently to begin. As the tanks are so large and the ambient temperature inside the bodega is also quite cold (obviously other tanks are still being refrigerated), raising the temperature of the tanks is also quite slow.

At this time, when harvesting and seeding are happening simultaneously the workload becomes quite intense. There is a lot going on, both physically and mentally. We are constantly up and down three flights of stairs – grapes arriving at the top level, the pressing room in the middle, and the tank room itself at ground level. Apart from the stairs, there is also temperature to take into account – working on the top two levels can be quite warm, whilst the tank room feels almost like a refrigerator by comparison. You always need to keep a jacket or body warmer handy!

Thankfully today was a little busier, and it finally feels like the end of the picking might be in sight. Having said that the forecast for tomorrow does not look good, with some heavy rain predicted. So much for making progress.

Harvest 2023 – Day 6

September 8th, 2023 | Bodega

Thankfully another bright day to continue our campaign. Most of our more distant vineyards (no more than 10km) have been completed, and now we are working a little nearer to home. This being the case it makes transporting our fruit much more easily. Today we are not relying on any big trucks, but have reverted to our more ‘traditional’ method of a shuttle between the bodega and the vineyards using our tractors and vans. The downside of this is that we are moving individual cases by hand rather that using pallets and forklifts in the vineyard. In this way, it is a bit more labour intense, but then on the upside, with smaller, more regular grape deliveries it means that we can keep our presses ‘fed’ and working. (Using the truck method, we have periods of inactivity, until suddenly, we are faced with a delivery of 14 full pallets – about 10,000 kg).

Today we picked our ‘Bodega’ vineyard, just a small 1 hectare plot surrounding the wine cellar. Our tractors shuttle grapes straight into the grape reception, and so from picking to the presses can almost be measured in minutes, rather than hours! If only all of our vineyards we so close, it would make logistics a whole lot easier (and many a bit cheaper too).

Of course, the advantage of not having to wait very long for our fruit to arrive is that we can load the presses much earlier than some other days, especially when we are waiting for growers to deliver their crop at the end of their working day. Instead of finishing the presses in the early hours of the morning, our last press was completed shortly after midnight (albeit there is still quite a lot of cleaning to do after that).

Today’s photo shows the ‘bagazo’, or pomace as it is known in English. This is simply the remnants of the grape bunches after pressing (sent to the distillery to make ‘aguardiente’ (eau de vie or grappa in other countries).

Harvest 2023 – Day 5

September 7th, 2023 | Bodega

Well, it’s been slow progress so far, and we’re barely half way through our harvest. Having said that, judging by the volume of tractors and trailers in the street today, there are many bodegas that are only just starting. I have no idea why they would delay for so long?

In bright, sunny conditions we continued to pick our vineyards (selected in order of maturity of the fruit, and overall quality). When bad weather looms all around us we certainly don’t want to ‘leave the best ’til last’, our attitude is quite the opposite in fact!

As mentioned, progress in 2023 is not quite as  quick as we would have liked, not just because of the weather, but probably more to do with being able to recruit experienced, quality pickers. In many industries throughout Spain there are already labour shortages, and so trying to find people to work for just a week or so is quite difficult to say the least. Apart from paying them a competitive rate, we try to look after them with a supply of drinks and small snacks (also the occasional ice cream when the weather is hot). Small gestures, but usually well appreciated.

Today’s picture shows just a couple of minor mishaps where cases have been damaged in transit. When our forklifts load and unload the trucks it is more or less inevitable that with such volume there will be a few incidents along the way. (Luckily the grapes are still useable!)

Inside the bodega, tastings of our first musts are very favourable. Ripe, fruity and surprisingly unctuous, but not forgetting an underlying acidity which is not always so obvious when there is so much sugar present.


Harvest 2023 – Day 4

September 6th, 2023 | Bodega

Many forecasts said that last night’s rain would continue well into this morning, effectively stopping at about midday. As it turns out they were all completely wrong. It stopped raining yesterday evening after only a couple of hours, rained a little during the night, but by this morning it had dried up completely. Admittedly, the day started heavily overcast with dark grey clouds on virtually every side – far too threatening to start picking, and so we decided to hold off until the afternoon, condensing our work into a half day.

I know that the English are reputed to have an obsession with the weather, but this year, I have to say that it is a healthy obsession. Having said that, I can only say that there is not one single website that has proved to be accurate this year, and indeed, the forecasts simply change each time you look at them.

Although there was nothing happening in the vineyard work started today inside the bodega. After a day or two of cold settling (when all the soil, skins, stalks etc. fall to the bottom of the tank), it is time to start racking the grape must into clean tanks. Today’s photo show the ‘fangos’ (sediment) that is left once the racking is complete. Fangos from all the tanks is collected in another tank, allowed to settle again, and clean grape must can be drawn off.

Owing to the bad weather hardly any of our grape suppliers decided to harvest, consequently it was a very quiet day indeed. With yet more rain forecast in the coming days, it’s just a shame that more people didn’t take advantage of this short window.


Harvest 2023 – Day 3

September 5th, 2023 | Bodega

After last night’s rainfall, we opened our shutters to discover a bright, sunny morning, and so we headed out to the vineyards with our fingers well and truly crossed that it would remain unchanged.

We are still rushing to gather our very best grapes before they get damaged or diluted by either rain or mildew – it is still a very dangerous time for the fruit, and if mildew does take hold then there is nothing that we can do to stop it. It simply means that we lose good, healthy grapes. If this happens then it is obviously a very big blow for our vineyard teams who have spent the last 9 or 10 months, pruning, treating, taking care of the canopy etc. Seeing all the ‘fruits’ of their labour being consumed by rot it clearly something that we are working hard to avoid (as much as we can).

In the end our third day was very uneventful, with no unusual incidents, until, say perhaps, around 5.30pm, when the rain forecast for 6pm actually started. Certainly the amount of rainfall was too significant to ignore, picking stopped, grapes were hastily covered and a truck was loaded to deliver them quickly to the bodega. In reality, perhaps only one or two hours of picking were lost.

Today’s picture is actually from our first day, when a pallet that was being unloaded, unfortunately collapsed. I posted the picture on Instagram and made a very bad joke, saying that spilling fruit on the floor has no influence at all on “terroir”. (Maybe some would argue that it does!!!)

Harvest 2023 – Day 2

September 4th, 2023 | Bodega

In the end, it took nearly all night to clear the backlog of grapes, so it was actually quite stressful on day one.

We move into day two with a slightly overcast sky, and of course the threat on rain looming on the horizon. Most of the weather websites agree that rain will come, but the big questions are, when and in what areas (rainfall can be very localised and unpredictable being so close to the Ocean).

The thing that is perhaps puzzling me the most is that the majority of bodegas have not even started picking yet, and plan to start next week. It can’t be a question of maturity, because the grapes that we have gathered so far and quite healthy and ripe. I simply don’t understand why other producers would delay?

This year, for some reason, Sunday turned out to be quite quiet and uneventful, whereas normally weekends are our busiest days. This is the time when our grape suppliers have family and friends available to help with their harvest, but apparently not so much in 2023.

The good news is that, apart from a very short sprinkling in the afternoon, we managed to dodge the rain, until that is (once all of our fruit was safely inside), it did start raining steadily as we prepared to leave for the day.

Monthly Archives


ARE YOU OF LEGAL AGE? This site is intended for those of legal drinking age. By entering, you confirm that you are of legal drinking age in the country where this site is being accessed. ¿ERES MAYOR DE EDAD? Este sitio está destinado a personas en edad legal para beber alcohol. Al ingresar, confirma que tiene la edad legal para beber en el país donde se accede a este sitio.