It’s been a very busy, but enjoyable, few weeks as we’ve been doing our annual grape harvest. Coupled with Jeroen’s continued work on the straw bale project we’ve been stretched to get everything done, but it’s one of my favourite times of year, the weather has been lovely and it’s been good fun.
Once the grapes have been picked we put them through a machine which looks rather like an old fashioned mangle to squash them. No feet here!
The resultant juice and squashed grapes goes into giant open vats called dornas to ferment. We have two, 500 and 700 litre capacity respectively. That’s a lot of grapes!
The dornas need stirring daily, something which requires strong arms and a certain tolerance to the fruit flies that so much sweet fermenting fruit attracts.
It takes around 7 days for the grapes to complete their first fermentation in the dornas. The fizzing dies down and the fruit flies are less interested. That’s when the juice needs to be transferred to barrels. Despite the dornas being fitted with filters and taps, these almost always fail on us and what should be a painless operation ends up being a complicated and sticky exercise which destroys all my knitting needles and kitchen sieves!
Despite finishing transferring the last batch of wine in the dark by torchlight, we now have five wooden barrels full sitting pregnant with opportunity in the adega. There’s another dorna fermenting still as we’ve been harvesting grapes over a couple of weeks, so we should fill at least one more barrel before we’re through. That’ll be about 800 litres.
The barrels aren’t sealed yet as we’re stirring them gently each morning, but after a month of this they’ll be sealed up and not opened again until they’re ready after a further two months or so.
Until then, we’ve rather a lot of last year’s wine still to drink …