Yesterday was the turn of the mataro grapes to be picked, and because the 'Gast Arbeiter' as Best Beloved jokingly calls his Austrian nephew – his key assistant in the vinyard – has returned home for a camping trip, the family was out in force. Even Sputnik was in the field by six a.m.
BB's back problems, and the short stature of the mataro vines, meant that BB supervised and everyone else picked. Leo and Zenon, once we managed to press their enthusiasm buttons, proved adept.
First we removed the netting that protects the berry clusters from sparrows, then we went down the rows of vines snipping away the bunches. We separated the grapes into Alpha and Beta qualities: the Alpha for immediate processing and the Beta for a few days' drying in the sun before pressing (BB is endeavoring to make a vin doux paille, and for that the grapes need to be slightly raisinated).
Blessings on BB's new machinery, the destemming and crushing was done in less than an hour, and the mataro has started it's journey from 'vine to wine' in one of the steel tanks in the basement. Its next stage is to ferment in open steel tanks for a week or so, with BB or me pressing down the grapes several times a day to ensure that no crusty cap forms on the top of the grapes, and that all get an equal chance at fermentation.
I returned to the field after all the grapes were picked because the mango season has just started. The troops were clamouring for breakfast, and I was hungry too. What better than a fig and mango smoothie?