Happy (& wet) New Year!

January 11th, 2023 | Vineyards

Well, it seems that 2023 has started where 2022 left off – both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day were marked by really torrential rain. In some countries, at this time of year, there is a tradition of ‘walking off’ the heavy celebratory meals, but perhaps not so much this winter (or certainly not in Galicia)!

It’s true to say that after two dry winters, and a very hot, dry summer last year we really needed the water, and it seems that the ground in our vineyards is now, already, well and truly saturated. Like other parts of the world our local rivers and streams were drying up, whereas now they are almost full to overflowing as they struggle to cope with the rainfall.

Of course, as I always mention, these conditions leave us with difficult and very unpleasant conditions for pruning.


Happy New Year!

January 1st, 2023 | Fiestas

Well, I wish I could say that today’s photo was taken this morning, or even recently, but the truth is that it has hardly stopped raining for the last month or so, many days (including Christmas day) being quite torrential. So when I say that has 2023 has started with a bang, I don’t mean from the fireworks, but rather from the thunder and lightning that was rolling around our hillsides as we opened our shutters to welcome in the New Year.

Here’s to a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2023 for all!

Happy Holidays

December 23rd, 2022 | Fiestas

Greetings from a very wild and wet Galicia! It seems that this year we won’t be dreaming of a White Christmas, but simply that it would stop raining for a while – the last week or so has been wet, windy and very humid. However, I guess this is, at least, better than our friends and customers in the United States who are faced with mind (and toe) numbing temperatures.

As we all know 2022 has not been without its challenges, and can only hope that over time we will slowly recover from all the difficulties which have befallen us.

As this year comes to an end all that is left for us to say is that we thank you all for your continued support, and wish you a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.


December 19th, 2022 | Bodega

The weather this December has been a changeable to say the least – some weather typical, some not quite so typical. The typical part is that it has been quite a wet month. Indeed, as I write this post we are being lashed by strong winds and driving rain, it really is very wild and unpleasant outside. In contrast to this a lot of the month has been quite mild, whereby, apart from one cold snap at the beginning of the month (with only one night of frost that I can recall), temperatures have remained mostly in the mid-teens °C, ranging largely between 13° and 17°C (55° to 63°F). This is actually a bit of a relief, because the usual Galician combination of cold and humidity can be really bone-chilling.

There have been some dry days, and a few sunny days, but these have been few and far between, and so our seasonal work in the vineyards has been tough to say the least.

Our Christmas orders of wine are all wrapped and distributed, and so apart from a few odd cases here and there, the last week before the holidays is likely to be quite quiet. Time to catch up on some admin and other chores. Perhaps tomorrow, we might make one final tasting of our tanks of 2022 wine before the end of the year, just to see how they are progressing. I have high expectations!

Ramsay in Ribadumia

November 30th, 2022 | Food & Wine

The name of our district, where the bodega is located is Ribadumia, a name that derives from our local river, the Umia.

Yesterday, we had a famous visitor (or should I say visitors), to the Estuary of our river; namely Gordon Ramsay (the Michelin *** chef and his two companions). They were filming a TV series for HBO called Gordon, Gino and Fred’s Road Trip, where this group of three travel around various countries (in a campervan) exploring local culture and cuisine. Gordon and Gino are both chefs, whilst Frenchman Fred Sirieix is a well-known restaurateur.

On a cold, grey Galician morning they donned their boots, grabbed their rakes and waded into the river to collect clams with a group of local women from Cambados.

After a couple of hours filming came the serious business of cooking – a simple dish of clams cooked in white wine (albariño, of course), with garlic, onions and lemon juice, served on a bed of spaghetti. Actually more of an Italian dish, than Galician, pasta alle vongole!

Well, we needed water!

November 22nd, 2022 | Vineyards

The last two winters in Galicia were both unusually dry. Our region is know as ‘Green Spain’ for a reason, and of course, this this usually relies a great deal on the amount of rainfall that we experience during the winter months.

After a hot, dry summer in 2022, when the ground was unusually parched and the risk of forest fires was high, it appears now that the month of November is much more typical of our Galician climate. A large part of the month has been wet, with long periods of persistent rainfall (actually just what we need for replenishing our diminished water table). At least we have been lucky that the rain is evenly distributed and that we have not really suffered the sudden, torrential downpours that have created such catastrophic flash-flooding in other parts of the world.

One of the other factors in the midst of all of this, is that temperatures have remained higher than we would normally expect. For the last few weeks the thermometer has barely fallen below 16/17°C (60-62°F), which is probably 3 or 4°C higher than we would normally expect at this time of year. The downside of higher temperatures is that it delays the start of our pruning. We usually wait for colder temperatures when leaves start to fall and the sap inside the plant also recedes for the winter leaving dry, dead wood for cutting.


Preparing new ground

November 4th, 2022 | Bodega

I wrote a few months ago about removing a few trees in the corner of one of our vineyards. The area of land that has been cleared is actually designated as vineyard, and the problem is that if we don’t exploit this very soon then we will simply lose the permission, and consequently the size of useable area will be reduced in the vineyards register accordingly.

Now that the trees have been cut, the next step is to remove the roots, flatten the area, and prepare the soil. Not a simple job at all, but in the long-term we believe that it will be a worthwhile task (I was actually going to say a fruitful exercise, but decided that this might be too unoriginal!).

Once the ground is prepared the next step will be to plant the new vines and add the posts and wires on which we will eventually train the young plants. However, the development of the plants is slow, and it will be several years before we have any useable fruit. It really is a long-term investment.

Meanwhile, in the cellar all fermentations are complete, and it is now simply a question of time and patience, as the new wine rests quietly on its lees before we really get to know the full potential of our 2022 vintage.

2022 wine update

October 17th, 2022 | Bodega

With the harvest now well and truly behind us, activity in the bodega is still quite frenetic. At harvest time all other activity stops – no bottling, no labelling, our mission is focused purely on collecting and processing grapes. Consequently, as soon as the picking comes to an end and the winemaking is under way, we can then turn our attention to our other day-to-day work.

Today’s picture shows a corner of our warehouse that was completely emptied to create additional working space for the harvest. The top photo, taken shortly after harvest, shows the area after deep cleaning. The bottom picture shows the very same space as it is today, full of orders ready to be collected. As you can imagine, our bottling line has been working overtime (although that’s not unusual at this time of year).

With the fermentation of our 2022 wine coming to an end, we recently lined up samples of each tank side-by-side in order to taste our new crop. It’s actually quite a difficult exercise, even for an experienced taster, as naturally, the wines are still very raw. However, the really interesting fact is that, even at this early stage, the differences between the wines harvested from our different vineyard locations is already starting to emerge. The vinification techniques that we use are the same for every tank and so the apparent differences really do come from the provenance of the fruit. Without going into specific detail, it has to be said that we are pretty happy with the overall result. We are still optimistic that 2022 could be very good. Patience is now the key, in order to see if our babies evolve into the mature adults that we really wish them to be!

2022 – Wine is on the way

September 28th, 2022 | Bodega

With tanks now well into their fermentations, all work is now fully focused inside the bodega. After every harvest our second highest priority, after winemaking, is deep cleaning. Every floor and surface has to be cleaned and scrubbed, to eliminate the stubborn, sticky grape juice, and every piece of equipment has to be stripped and completely serviced ready for next year. The sooner that this can be done the better, because once dry, the grape must can set hard like varnish!

The warehouse space shown in today’s photo is the very same that, some weeks ago, appeared in my posts full of pallets (or sometimes bottle stock). Today it is not. There are many areas that have to be emptied completely during harvest to allow free access, and also to ensure that stock does not get stained or damaged in any way. Suffice to say that space is always at a premium at this time of year.

In the meantime, samples of this year’s must have now been analysed by an official laboratory, rather than just our own small facility in the bodega. The results are slightly different to ours, but in a favourable way. According to this lab the acidity of this year’s wines should be at a normal level for our region (higher than we thought initially), and also the alcohol should be slightly lower, probably a bit nearer 12.5%. Of course, these results are still not definitive, until the wine is completely finished, but they do indicate that we should be producing a very typical, Salnés Valley, Atlantic albariño in 2022.


2022 – 40th Harvest at Castro Martin – Day 10

September 20th, 2022 | Bodega

For our final day the sun was beating down (as it has been for the last couple of days, with a temperature of around 29°C / 84°F). With one final vineyard left to finish we hoped that this would be a short day. As I have mentioned in previous years we have to wait until the final grapes are collected before we can load the presses. The weight of fruit has to be distributed evenly as our presses cannot function if they are only half full. Again, this would mean another waiting game.

At about 5.30pm the last grapes were in, calculations were made, and presses were loaded. All was going well until about 8.30pm when there was a very loud bang and one of the presses stopped in the middle of its cycle. Clearly, from the sound alone, we could deduce that this was probably a mechanical failure rather than an electronic issue. We were not wrong.

The press had only just started it’s 75 minute cycle, and was stuck, leaving us unable to rotate the cylindrical tank of the press in any direction. This left us with a dilemma. If the press could not be repaired then how could we remove the partially crushed fruit and move it to the other press? We were considering all options, including taking our shoes and socks off and using ancient methods!

In short, after more than two hours, the engineers were able to make at least a temporary repair, this meant that at least the cycle could be completed and we could keep our feet dry (at least for this harvest)!

Apart from this final drama, the 2022 vintage has probably been slightly better than we anticipated, and after a very dry summer, our yields (litres/kilo) were more or less normal. Now we move on to the winemaking (albeit this is already well under way).

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