The hottest July?

August 10th, 2020 | Pre-harvest

Of course, we are already well into the month of August, but I have to mention that our July weather was quite extraordinary. Not only was it hot and sunny but we hardly witnessed a cloud in the sky for the entire duration of the month. Whilst this would be quite normal in the South of Spain, for Galicia it is perhaps, something of a rarity.

With temperatures regularly hovering around 30°C (86°F) or above, and as far as I recall, not a drop of rain touched the ground. It would be easy to assume that these are perfect conditions for grape growing, and whilst it is true, that these conditions are far better than damp, humid weather, a little precipitation now and again never goes amiss. As with many things in wine making, it is really a question of balance.

Fortunately the winter of 19/20 had been quite wet, and so the water deep under the surface had been topped up, meaning that the deep roots of the vines, could at least, source a little moisture.

Looking at the vineyards now, the bunches are still small and tightly packed and there is no sign of veraison (when the grapes change colour from vibrant green, to a slightly more yellow/golden green, or in some cases deep gold.


Albariño Festival 2020

July 28th, 2020 | Fiestas

This week the town of Cambados would normally be bracing itself for the start of the Annual Albariño Festival…. but not this year. At great economic cost to the town, the vast majority of events have been cancelled, for obvious reasons. The centrepiece, and biggest money-spinner, would normally be the Festival itself, whereby the town square would be lined with stands from the various bodegas offering the chance to sample their wares (albeit ‘sample’ is perhaps something of a euphemism that others might describe as more of a ‘binge’).

The tasting competition is still happening, although the big celebration lunch and presentation of prizes, normally held at the end of the festival, has also fallen victim.

One of the few surviving events is the tunnel of wine, for me at least, the most worthwhile part of the whole festival. An opportunity to taste a large number of albariños all under one roof, in a relatively peaceful environment.

Now, how a large tasting will work under social distancing rules is another matter, but I will let you know next week. The only thing that I can say for sure is that I will have to remove my mask for tasting (although it is now compulsory for us to wear masks in all public places, subject to strict on-the-spot fines for non-compliance)!

Racking and weather

July 17th, 2020 | Bodega

Owing to this year’s exceptional circumstances we are somewhat delayed in some of our chores. One process that would normally have been completed a month or two ago is racking the tanks of our 2019 vintage (removing the clean wine from it’s ‘bed’ of fine lees where it has been quietly resting). Now that we have returned we are systematically working through the backlog.

There is nothing particularly exciting about the racking process, indeed, the majority of our time is spent simply waiting for wine to be moved from one tank to another. The only real task is to monitor the turbidity of the wine (visually) using a special glass joint that connects the tank to the hose.

Meanwhile, outside the bodega, we are slowly being baked. Pretty much since the beginning of July we have been experiencing wall-to-wall sunshine, with temperatures regularly hovering around the 30°C (86°F) mark. Of course, sunshine is much better than wet weather for our vines, as long as the extreme temperatures don’t continue for too long.

Finish what we started….

July 8th, 2020 | Bodega

Just before Covid-19 took hold earlier this year, we had already embarked on a programme of renewal and refurbishment in different areas of the bodega. The main work was in our ‘salon’ (reception room), where last year when we changed the look of the room completely. The second phase of this work includes changing the windows (to update and improve insulation), and completely modernising our lighting system (to include new, low consumption spotlights).
Meanwhile, in the tank room, we had also started the installation of a new, digitally controlled refrigeration system, that would allow us to monitor and control the tank temperature by remote (very important for monitoring temperatures during the fermentation).
Although this work had been planned and was already underway, it obviously had to be abandoned (quite literally) as we closed during the pandemic. Now we are simply finishing what we started some months ago.
To be honest, the change to the windows is barely noticeable (visually), whereas the revised lighting system makes a big impact. The temperature control is also very different, incorporating touch-screen control, and whilst it has been tested we will not be able to assess it’s full impact until harvest time. Vamos a ver!

Galicia is back!

July 2nd, 2020 | International News

In the coming days Europe is opening it’s air corridors to International travel, although there are still a few exceptions. To be honest it’s really a bit complicated – some countries are, apparently, still subject to quarantine restrictions, depending on where you are travelling from. On top of this, it is evident that some countries are applying these rules far more strictly than others.

Until recently, Galicia has been isolated from the rest of Spain as travel between the different Spanish provinces was banned almost completely. Our local beaches, normally thronging with Madrileños (many of whom have holiday homes and apartments here), have been pretty quiet for the time of year…. until now. Much to the chagrin of locals, the people of Madrid are now filtering back. The reason for their disquiet is simple – Madrid has been the epicenter of Coronavirus, whilst Galicia has escaped comparatively lightly. Galicians simply do not want ‘outsiders’ carrying potential danger into their region.

Having said that, a large part of our local income is from domestic tourism, and so the bars and restaurants are, understandably, quite keen to have them back (with just one or two small reservations). I have to confess that this should mean a revival of sales for our wine too, and so, in the end, we have to be happy about this…..

As publicity to encourage visitors, our local tourist board have produced this rather nice video.

Champions!!! (nothing to do with wine)

June 26th, 2020 | International News

Although my beloved Liverpool FC dominated the English Football League in the 1970’s and 1980’s, they have not won the Premier League for exactly 30 years… until last night! I think it’s true to say that they are the most successful English club ever, winning 19 League titles, 6 Champions League titles, 3 UEFA Cups (now known as the Europa League) and countless domestic trophies.

This season 2019/20 we are Premier League Champions, European Champions and World Club Champions – apart from the virus not a bad year for Liverpool fans!

Last night our manager Jurgen Klopp was in tears as they tried to interview him…. he was not alone, and will Never Walk Alone!


When wines gets sick

June 18th, 2020 | Bottles and bottling

For the past few months all talk has been concentrated around a certain virus – but what happens when a bottle of wine gets ‘sick’?

I should start by saying don’t worry, you can’t catch this virus from drinking wine! I am talking about a completely different thing…. bottle sickness. So what is bottle sickness and how does it affect what we drink? Well, to be honest, this problem is much more likely to be picked up by professionals when a wine is first shipped, and will normally have recovered well before the time it reaches you.

It is a phenomenon caused by travel, when the bottles are shipped over long distances, whether it be by road, sea or air. It can also occur when a wine has been recently bottled, again as the result of it being badly ‘shaken up’ – it simply needs time to recover (up to one or two weeks after a long trip)! It is difficult to pinpoint exactly why this occurs, but the effect, in the short-term, can be quite significant. The wine simply ‘closes down’ as many of the usual aromas and flavours that you would normally expect are simply not present. In addition, it can even appear to be a little thin and insipid. At this moment the wine can be described as ‘dumb’ (which in wine parlance does not mean stupid!).

It is important to know that this ‘sickness’ will not occur on your journey home from the wine shop or supermarket. However, if your wine is a little ‘closed up’ when you first open it, this could be just a touch of sulphur (added as protection at bottling). Simply swirl your glass and give it a few minutes to open up again – the best things are always worth waiting for!


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.

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