These are the most intense days of the year. Everything operates at the highest level and at maximum speed. Our legs and hands do not stop. Neither does the mind. The vineyard has spoken and expressed itself. During the harvest it shows us what it has been capable of producing this year. It gives us everything it has. We have to be able to pick that fruit in a precise way, at the perfect moment of ripening. A chronicle of the grape harvest, here:
On Thursday, October 14, as we write these words, we find ourselves at Tres Piedras with approximately 35% of the grapes harvested. We have already harvested the grapes from our oldest vines (among them the centenary vines of the La Tejera plot, which once again this year we have fallen in love with). The white and red varieties whose vines are planted on less fertile soils (and have an earlier ripening) have also already been harvested and are now resting in the winery.
Grapes from lower altitude areas have also been amongst the first to be brought into the winery’s storage in order to avoid the frost. In mid-October, in Ribera del Duero Burgalesa we already have cold nights that hover around zero degrees, and sometimes dip to sub-zero temperatures. It must be taken into account that ice dehydrates the grapes and therefore results in the sugar concentration being unbalanced if we suffer a frost in the vineyard before harvesting. Our plots located closest to the Riaza River have already been harvested and are already in the winery in excellent phytosanitary condition.
Although we practice organic, sustainable viticulture, without the use of pesticides, fungicides or chemical fertilizers, this year we have not suffered any damage to the vines and we have not found any powdery mildew, downy mildew or grey rot. Our vines, thanks to this continuous practice of organic viticulture, have adapted to cope with these potential diseases.
All of the aforementioned factors point toward an excellent vintage this year. The rains that fell three weeks before the start of the harvest brought the grapes to perfect ripeness. The wonderful 23 litres per square meter of rain that watered our plots for four days were welcomed with great joy and gratitude by our vines and by us alike. This amount of rainfall spread over a four-day span, in addition to the daytime air allowed for perfect aeration of the vines.
These days, every morning with the first rays of sunshine, the harvest team continues to pick the best of each vine, tendril by tendril, into 15 kg boxes. This year, our La Tejera estate has given us a yield of 1.2 kgs per plant. That is practically a bottle of wine per vine! The little jewels that are harvested will create the nearly 1,900 bottles that make up Unanimous La Tejera.
The cold has become almost an obsession for winemakers. Also for us, who are working with it these past few weeks. The harvest begins at the coolest time of the day and then the grapes are kept at a controlled temperature of about 7 degrees Celsius for two days before they enter the tanks. Maceration at low temperature before fermentation will allow us to enhance the varietal character of the wine.
In the winery, the harvested grapes spontaneously start the fermentation process with their own endogenous yeasts (one of the innumerable advantages of working organically). We are amazed with this year’s vintage. We still have a few days of harvest left, but we envision a great 2021 vintage in Ribera del Duero and Tres Piedras.
Let’s carry on.