Monday, August 30, 2010

The harvest looms in very dry conditions

Galicia remains one of the driest places in Spain at the moment, and despite our prayers we have only enjoyed one day of light rain in the last couple of months. As I write this post the temperature remains up around 30°C (86°F), and whilst we normally require a good deal of sunshine during the growing season, in 2010 it has simply been a bit excessive.

With our vines showing signs of stress, it now looks like we might start to pick around the middle of September, rather than at the end of the month as we had originally anticipated (you may recall that we had a fairly late flowering). Some other denominations in the south of Galicia are predicting a start date as early as the 6th September.

One of the few upsides of a summer without rain has been the reduced number of treatments required in the vineyard, obviously the dry conditions have not been supportive to diseases such as mildew, and as a result there has been little or no intervention needed.

This week we embark on a major cleaning programme in the bodega as all the equipment used only once a year at harvest time, needs a good scrub down in preparation for the big 'kick-off'.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Galicia goes bilingual

Here in Galicia it is quite normal to see our matrix motorway signs in two languages, but usually they would be alternating between Spanish and Galician.

Yesterday, for the first time since I arrived here in Galicia I noticed an overhead gantry, not only written in English, but with a very polite request too - "Respect speed limits please". I can't ever remember seeing a sign in England saying please, it would probably be more likely to say "Respect speed limits or else hand over your cash!"

Although we are still in August (technically the peak of the holiday season), we still do not welcome too many British visitors to our remote corner of Spain, which is really what makes this latest development so unexpected.

Perhaps as this sign is on my daily route between the Bodega and our home, it has been introduced purely for my benefit - not that you would ever find me speeding, honestly officer.....

Monday, August 23, 2010

We're back!

OK, so I acknowledge that I am the 'king of corny jokes', and probably leave many people wincing when they discover my twisted sense of humour for the first time, but I can assure you that my story this morning was not in any way staged or planned in advance......

I always intended to write something witty about our return to work with 'batteries fully charged' and ready for the forthcoming harvest, but then one of my batteries went and died on me!

It seems like my car (that I had barely used last week) decided to take an extended break, and so my eagerness to get back to work was curtailed slightly when my engine failed to start this morning. Fortunately I have a set of jump leads and was able to make my way to the Bodega with only the minimum of delay. Suffice to say that my car is now charging, albeit that I had to dismantle half of the boot (trunk) to get to the battery.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, we still have a little bottling and labelling to finish before we start on the pre-harvest deep clean, and the other news is that today we have our first real rain for several weeks. We have had a little 'mizzle' in the last day or two, but today we are enjoying a good shower of rain. One or two days of gentle rain at this point will not go amiss, as this will only benefit the vines that have been suffering during the extended hot period - a return to fine weather in a couple of days would then be perfect......

We have our fingers crossed.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Steam power - the green option?

Without too much to do except wait for the grapes to ripen in the vineyards we decided to have a clear out in one of the buildings at the back of the Bodega.

Hidden in a corner we discovered an old pump, which had probably been earmarked for the scrapyard - but we have since decided to give it a new lease of life....

At the front of the bodega we used to have a couple of old barrels, intended purely as a bit of decoration. Unfortunately, the ravages of the Galician weather have taken their toll on the wood, and eventually they simply started to fall apart. It was my original intention just to prepare a couple of replacements, but then we came across this old engine which seemed like a much more attractive and permanent solution.

A couple of coats of paint later it has now been installed in its new home immediately adjacent to our front door, not exactly restored to its former glory, but looking rather resplendent nonetheless.

I have to confess that as the front area of our bodega is open to the road, we have taken the precaution of bolting and welding this new addition to a rather large piece of concrete!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Is there anybody out there?

The annual Microsoft Office outing! 

Yesterday my e-mail was so quiet I almost contacted my provider to see if my connection was working properly - I got so desperate that I was almost praying for junk mail!

We must have reached one of the peak holiday weeks, when we receive more out-of-office replies than we do answers.

Please don't forget that it's our turn next week, and that the Bodega will be closed for one week. I'm so excited I've already packed my bucket and spade!

Have a great holiday wherever you are......

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Autumn Leaves

If you look at today's photo, you might have a bit of a problem working it out - the reason is that I have deliberately loaded it upside-down!

It just stuck me when I took this snap, that there were almost as many leaves on the ground as there were on the pergolas overhead. The reason? Well, we believe quite simply that quality is created in the vineyard, and so during the summer months we spend a lot of time working on the canopy, making sure that our fruit gets the best possible exposure. Not only that, but we have also done some 'green harvesting' this year, which, as I'm sure you know, means removing any excess bunches from the vine before they mature. Of course this simply has the effect of concentrating all the efforts of the plant into the optimum number of bunches.

The hot weather continues, there is no rain on the horizon, and the harvest looms ever closer.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Wilting in the heat

Wouldn't argriculture be boring if our weather was predictable? There's a sort of irony in the fact that just a couple of months ago Galicia was awash with rain, whereas now......

Certainly for large parts of June and nearly the whole of July, we have barely seen a drop of rain. With the exception of a thunderstorm at the beginning of the month, July can only be described as hot and windy. For several weeks now, daytime temperatures have been pushing 30°C (86°F) or more, and have only been moderated by winds blowing from the north and the west. The problem is that whilst the breeze is very welcome, it is also very drying and our vineyards are just starting to suffer as a result. The roof of the canopy is showing signs of stress - leaves are wilting a little and are not as verdant as they might normally be in our temperate maritime climate.

For the fruit to evolve properly, we could actually do with a few days of rain just to put us back on track - imagine, an Englishman, praying for a bit of rain!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Did I speak too soon?

This weekend the LVIII Albariño Festival was held in the local town of Cambados. Some 43 bodegas set up shop in the town square, selling Albariño, either by the glass or by the bottle to the general public. If you look back to my posts of previous years you will see that Castro Martin actively avoids attending, mostly because the whole event demands a huge amount of work, for little or no return. Most of the 'tasting' is conducted at night, and extends well into the early hours, by which time the atmosphere is extremely animated and highly charged to say the least.

Unfortunately this year, possibly for the first time as far as I am aware, the festival was marred by violence, as fighting broke out amongst the crowd - I quote from our local paper as follows:

"El día grande de la Festa do Albariño en Cambados tuvo otra vertiente al margen de la festiva, ya que la jornada de ayer se saldó con varias peleas en las calles de la localidad que acabaron con un joven detenido por agresión. Sobre las once de la mañana se registró una reyerta multitudinaria en un local de copas de la calle de la movida cambadesa, pelea que finalizó con varios heridos por contusiones, y al menos uno de ellos tuvo que ser trasladado al Hospital do Salnés."

"Un joven de Lugo, Bruno J.S., tuvo que ser trasladado al hospital con una herida en el abdomen por la que sangraba y que, al parecer, se había hecho con un cristal. Por estos hechos fue detenido Cristian C. C., al que los agentes arrestaron acusado de un delito de lesiones."

To summarise, a "massive brawl" broke out resulting in several people suffering bruises, and one poor man from Lugo admitted to hospital with bleeding from the abdomen, apparently caused by glass.

I do hope that this is not the shape of things to come.