Facts about our Vineyard

This is just an information sheet to contain the information about our vineyard for internal use.

grape_picking

2013
We start by planting 75 petit verdot on the Era field. There are also a few plants made from cuttings which are white grapes.

2014
Planted 250 new vines on the new field. Half of them Cabernet Sauvignan the other half Bobal.
We did make some wine but it was a mix of our own and some grapes from over the hill.

2015
We made about 40 litres of wine.
The plants were pruned correctly for the first time in October.

2016
We planted 125 Tempranillo and 125 Cabernet Sauvignon

An audit in June by Daniel the Dressing Gown Man states:
There are 660 growing vines.
About 50 did not make it to October.

Harvest:

The harvest happened on the 21st September.
4 crates from new field
3 crates from the Era field
3 crates from down below.
It took about 2 hours with 6 people to do the harvest.

Made about 100 litres of grape must.
About 12% alcohol potential on the light meter.

Pressing:
The pressing happened on 15th of October with the help of Jordan, Pierre, Jane and Caroline the Belgian girl. The wine was quite dry. I estimate that there were about 65 litres.

Notes: Many of the new vines planted were ripped out by foxes searching for insects.
Maybe the goatshit, leaf mold and earth mix should be aged longer before use.

2017
100 bobal ordered. Arrival date 1st April.
 We planted 1 new line and the rest were used to replace dead vines

This time we used the new petrol auger and it took most of the work out of preparing the holes. In August we put the top wires on all the lines.

Harvest:
The team was Sam, Heather, Alex (skateboarder), Phil Kiwi, Nitsan

The harvest happened on the 15th September.
35 crates in total.
18 crates from new field
11 crates from the Era field
It took about 3 hours with 6 people to do the top fields
6 crates from down below this took about 25 minutes

Made about 450 litres of grape must.
About 15% alcohol potential on the light meter.

The pressing happened on 15th of October with the help of Sam, Heather She-Wolf,  Phil Dynes. The time before pressing was much shorter and wine was still sweet. I estimate that there were about 280 litres.

 

Wine recipe

Wine stick for mixing wine

Wine stick for mixing wine

Our recipe for making wine was jotted down on a small piece of paper by the man in the shop selling the wine equipment.

wine-recipe

Wine recipe and instructions

The wine is started in four plastic vats, each holding about 150 litres. Because of the possibility of the wine overflowing when it starts to ferment, we decided to use a fourth one. The grapes are first destemmed and crushed by machine and then transferred over into the vats.For each 100ml,1 tablet of Potassium metasulphate is crushed and added to the liquid.

MACERATING THE GRAPES – MACERANDO LAS UVAS
The vats are then left for 7-10 days and  and are mixed three times a day using a wooden pole nailed to a square piece of wood with holes drilled in it so as to thoroughly submerge the grapes that float to the top. This process is know as “punching down the cap”.

MACERATION is the process by which the tannins, colouring agents (or anthocyanins) and flavours of the grape are broken down from the grape skins, seeds and stems into the grape juice or must. Maceration occurs during the first stage of wine-making but also continues throughout the second stage of fermentation.

FERMENTING THE GRAPES – FERMENTANDO LAS UVAS
FIRST FERMENTATION
During the first fermentation, the grape juice is then pressed in a grape press and returned to clean, plastic vats. The vats are left for 30 days.

During FERMENTATION, carbon dioxide is released when the sugar in the must is converted into alcohol. The process of maceration continues during this stage.

SECONDARY FERMENTATION
After 30 days, the liquid is transferred to a stainless steel “always full” vat and left for a further 60 days. The idea of the “always full” vat is that has a lid surrounded by an inflatable tube which adjusts to the diameter of the vat. Whenever liquid is removed from the vat, the lid is then lowered and the tube prevents any air from entering.

The secondary fermentation or ageing process is slower and can take any time from three to six months.

 

 

First viticulture experience: making wine with bought grapes

making wine

Making wine

This year we planted 125 petit verdot vines on the area of land that is to be our vineyard. It will be a good couple of years yet until they are ready for wine-making so we decided to buy some grapes from a local vineyard so that we could get our hand in at wine-making in preparation for when ours are ready.

Vineyard

Vineyard

To all intents and purposes, Petit Verdot is a red grape and good to grow at the cortijo because it is resistant and will put up with extremes of temperatures as well as drought. Although it can be used by itself, it is normally combined with other grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon. Time will tell whether it lives up to its reputation. Originally from Spain, for many years it was grown in the Bordeaux region but it became increasingly unpopular because it ripened later than other grapes.

On Saturday 5th October 2013, we went to a local vineyard to buy some grapes. Generally speaking, you will get a 75% yield of the grapes purchased.Thinking that we would be producing about 400 litres of wine, we therefore bought 600 kilograms of a mixture of Tempranillo and Syrac.

For the records, the grapes weighed in at 670 kilos in 30 crates. So allowing for 2 kilo per crate the net weight was 610kg.

Weighing the grapes

Weighing the grapes

Once the grapes have been cut and loaded into crates on the tractor, they are weighed 5 crates at a time on a traditional balance scales.

We took the grapes home and after lunch we began the second stage of the process:

Mechanical grape crusher/destemmer

Mechanical grape crusher-destemmer

The grapes are passed through the destemmer-crusher twice: first to remove the stems, twigs, leaves and branches and the second, to crush the grapes.

Removed stems

Removed stems

For this amount of grapes, we used 4 large vats (each of 220l), transferring the contents of 7 crates of grapes into each one.

Wine in the vats

Wine in the vats

 

 

Self-seeding Godetias

Godetias in a Pot

Godetias in a Pot

The other day I found a flower pot full of self seeded Godetia seedlings. I planted them about 6 years ago and they have survived in the pot on their own. The temperature in winter  gets well below 0C and in the summer it is very dry and well over 40C. The flowerpot has formed a tiny ecosystem and by an evolutionary process they have managed to survive.

 

Godetia Transplants

I have transplanted 18 of them into plastic modules and also planted the seeds which were in the dried seed pods into a pot.

I would like to make a self seeding area of Godetia plants which will come up every year. As they have survived for 6 years in very hostile conditions they should be able to cope with the harsh conditions at the Cortijo.

Notes: There are very precise instructions in Spanish for growing Godetia on this page
They germinate best at 21C, sowing in January will produce flowers in May/June.

I learned today that plastic modules in Spanish are called charolas

Godetias are actually called  Clarkias.

 

MOVE FORWARD TO MID MARCH

The Godetias looked very nice on the table for a long time.

The modules that I planted died after forgetting to water them during a weekend.
However the little seedlings that I planted in other pots were lovely. The Godetias flowered for about 4 weeks and were really lovely.

Creating a Vineyard from Scratch

Vine CuttingsIt is my plan to create a vineyard. We have a large price of land which has good soil and gets lots of light.

There are a lot of vineyards between our Cortijo and the next large town and the wine they sell is a pleasant Cabernet Sauvignon.

Rather than buy vines I have decided to plant cuttings. In December there were a lot of vine cuttings at the side of the road on the way to the nearest town and I threw a load of them into the back of the van. There was nobody around to ask so I don’t know exactly what sort of grapes they are.  It looks like they are being grown commercially so I just hope they will make good wine.

I looked at several websites to see how to make the cuttings. In the end I cut about 90 of the  vines into 30cm long pieces, dipped them in cutting hormones and then pushed them into pots of soil.  This happened on the 12th Jan 2012. Some of the pots have deeper soil than others. If they take I will transplant them into individual pots or plant them into the ground.  Most other websites say that you have to put them into a trench but I am using pots because we are down on the coast until March and they will be much warmer.

To be continued…….

30 December – Seed Planting

Seed Pots

Seed Pots

This may seem a strange time to plant seeds. The reason why I can start seeds off now is because we have a place on the coast and one up in the mountains. The average temperature on the coast is about 14C and in the mountains it is 5C .The idea is to get the plants going and then transfer them to the mountains after March.

All the seeds here are plants that could cope with some low temperatures at the start.

I have planted several pots. If any of them germinate I will transplant them into pots or modules. Very tiny seeds are just sprinkled onto the surface. Bigger seeds are mixed into the soil with the ends of my fingers according to size. The soil is normal potting compost and at the top of the pots there is some finer seed compost which was bought at a garden centre.

Petunias (fire chief) wiki
Petunias are great flowers. They cope well with the hot sun and the don’t get too upset by an occasional lack of water and also they flower for ages.  Petunias normally only cost about 1.20 euros each for a potted one but it will be good if we can get loads of them to use in the summer. Petunia seeds are very small so they are just spread on the surface of the flowerpot.

Snapdragons - Antirrhinum

Snapdragons Antirrhinum wiki
These are the sort of hard as nails plants we like at the cortijo. There are some snap dragons alive and flowering  at the moment in the cortijo and the temperature has been down to -5C. A good quality about snaps is that they self-seed themselves and once there are a few growing they will establish a colony.

 

 

Tudela Lettuce (cogollos de Tudela in Spanish) wiki
Cogollos de Tudela are a really good Spanish lettuce that form very compact hearts. If you go to a Spanish restaurant you can order “cogollos” which is normally lettuce hearts drizzled with a sort of garlic oil. They are very healthy to eat and you can make a very quick almost 0 calorie snack by slicing  a cogollo lettuce heart into 4 laterally and drizzling on some extra virgin olive.

Capers (capparis Spinosa) (alcaparras in Spanish)  wiki
This is probably a waste of time because caper seeds are very difficult to germinate and require stratifying. They probably won’t germinate but you never know.

Parsnip (Pastinaca) (chirivía in Spanish)  wiki
These were some seeds that I has in an old packet. Let’s hope they germinate.

seed traysI have also planted lots of plants into seed trays. The trays cost about 2 euros. It is the best way of raising lots of small plants for later transplanting.

I normally buy my plants form a shop called Bolivar in Granada. (they cost about 8 cents each) This year I am going to try to grow some of them myself.

I have the following plants in the seed trays.
Cauliflowers  (coliflor in Spanish)  wiki
Cauliflowers do very well at the cortijo.

Spring onion  (cebolleta in Spanish)  wiki
The was a packet of White Lisbon which came free with Grow Your Own  magazine.

Kale (Black tuscany)  (col rizada in Spanish)  wiki
There were some seeds in the bottom of a packet. It is a type of Curly Kale with purple leaves.

Leek  (puero in Spanish)  wiki
I bought these seeds from Al Campo supermarket.

Brunswick Cabbage  (Col Repollo)  wiki

 

Propagating Geraniums

Every year I have to buy more Geraniums because at some point the temperature gets down to about -10C and kills them.

This year I have decided to propagate some geraniums by planting  cuttings at the house on the coast which has a mild climate.

I simply cut off the main stems from the parent plants and then protected the originals with garden fleece so that they might survive the winter.  I made cuttings about 15cm long, making the cut just below a node.  I left one healthy leaf on each cutting. I didn’t use any cutting hormones. (because I had forgotten to buy any). I used a plastic tray module.I did  this on the 28th December 2011. They were left in the open air. The climate is mild and rarely goes below 10C.

Blog post continued on 6th March 2013.

The picture below shows the overwintering geraniums from last year and new ones being propagated. Last year’s ones were a big success.
Propagating geraniums is easy.  The most important thing to do is spray them every 3 weeks to stop the stem boring caterpillars.

Geraniums

The Goji Berry Project

In August 2010 I bought some dried Goji berries. At that time they were being touted as the ultimate super food, capable of lowering cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, cleaning the blood and a whole list of other health benefits which it seemed would lead to almost everlasting life.  I checked them out on many websites and their growing conditions matched the climate of our cortijo. The can put up with cold down to -15C and also they don’t mind strong sun and drought conditions, I realised that  this is the sort of tough as old boots plants we need in the sometimes harsh environment that we have at the cortijo. After some more research I decided to grow some.

The first step was to soak the seeds in water for a day and then break the berries up with my fingers. Then the seeds were put in a kitchen sieve and put under a jet of water. It was easy to separate then from the pulp. I then spread the seeds onto the top of some potting compost in a flowerpot.  When some of the seedlings were about 1cm high I transplanted them to  plastic growing modules.

Some of them died but I kept replacing them with other ones from the flowerpot until I had about 50 viable plants.

Most of the plants had reached about 8cm by October. We then took them down to the coast which has a mild climate with no frost. During the winter they did not lose their leaves but they seemed to be in a dormant state and did not grow much. Supposedly the dormant state was influenced by the hours of daylight.

We started planting the Goji berries into the ground on the 2nd of May 2011. The holes were about 30cm deep and we filled them with a mixture of manure, bags of garden soil form the garden centre and a little fish blood and bone mixture.

 

 

Peter designed a  system to protect the young plants from rabbits or other unwanted predators. Peter made tubes out of chicken wire which were held in place by bamboo sticks. The advantage of this system is that the wire mesh can be easily pushed up to enable weeding.

 

 

Goji berry just after being planted

Although the plants had been in a mild climate on the coast with a fair amount of sun they were only about 12cm high when we planted them.

They were mulched with composted almond shells.

 

 

 

Cathy Goji BerryGoji Berry Grown on the Coast The photo below is a plant that I gave to a friend from the original batch who lives on the coast near Malaga. She kept the pot in a garden and watered it well. This is much better than any of my plants. This just goes to show that the environment is very important.