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.

2018
We planted 200 bobal in the top half of the Era field .
This was done by Aida and me after Christmas.
It is the first time I have planted the vines early.
All of the holes were done with the petrol auger.

Aida counted all the vines and there were 813.

 

Salade niçoise – or rather just a nice salad

salade nicoise

SALADE NIÇOISE

Everyone has their own idea of what should or should not go into a salade niçoise. I wanted to prepare it with things we have to hand at the moment so this is my take on this classic dish – not so much niçoise but definitely nice.

Tuna is sometimes added but as I didn’t have any I used tinned sardines instead.

We’ve recently harvested the potatoes and so have lots of small, red-skinned ones. I cut them into bite-sized pieces and boiled them until tender.

We also have abundant green beans so I cut them into 5cm pieces and then steamed them for 5 minutes.

SALAD INGREDIENTS:
large lettuce leaves
1 or 2 hard-boiled eggs per person, quartered
tomatoes, cut into sixths or eighths depending on their size
green beans, cut into 5cm lengths and steamed for 5 minutes

DRESSING:
2 cloves garlic
2 anchovies
handful of basil leaves
4 tablespooons olive oil
½ tablespoon vinegar
black pepper
chives, finely chopped

METHOD:
On a large plate, arrange the lettuce leaves and season with a little salt.
Arrange the potatoes on the lettuce, then the beans, tomatoes and tuna. Finally arrange the eggs on the top.

Put all the ingredients for the dressing into a small container and blend well. Spoon over the salad and sprinkle over the chives.

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Carrot and olive oil cake

Carrot and olive oil cake

carrot and olive oil cake

By using extra virgin olive oil, this carrot cake had a great taste, was seriously moist and one of the nicest carrot cakes I’ve ever eaten. I’m a bit concerned about the amount of sugar in the cake itself as 500g seems a lot and so next time I might try using less sugar – possibly 350g.

I’ve just realised that I never say anything about heating the oven to 180ºC. When I bake cakes, I use the wood-fired oven after making pizzas for lunch so it’s more a case of waiting for the temperature to drop from over 350ºC to around 200ºC. Normally this takes about four hours or so and then the temperature will remain constant.

INGREDIENTS (CAKE):
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
500g brown sugar
250g self-raising flour
4 large eggs or 5 medium eggs
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
125g walnuts, coarsely chopped
500g carrots, coarsely grated

INGREDIENTS (ICING):
125g salted butter
250g light cream cheese
250g icing sugar
grated zest of 2 large oranges

METHOD:
Line a deep-sided roasting tin with baking parchment. The size of the tin I used was 32cm x 22cm.

In a large bowl beat together the olive oil, sugar and eggs. Slowly add in the flour, salt and cinnamon and mix well. Add the grated carrot and walnuts and give the mixture a good stir.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Meanwhile make the icing. Cream the butter in a bowl and then add all the other ingredients. Mix well and then keep in the fridge until needed.

Leave the cake to cool on a wire rack for ten minutes before removing from the tin. Leave to cool completely and then spread over the icing.

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Chicken Run 2

2016-07-12 20.14.25

This year I have put three of the hens in a pen in the bottom field. The idea was that this would be their final resting area but I’ve since changed my mind. Two of the hens are from the eggs that I incubated by crossing our hens with the neighbour’s rooster and I’ve become attached to them so they’ve been granted a wildcard to old age.

The white posts mark the borders of the pen and you can see two of the black hens together. The lines of vegetables to the right of the tractor are potatoes.

In their summer residence, they are protected by an electric fence surrounding a walnut tree and have free range of the first hen house that John built for them. Although they were reluctant to venture in at first, they are now happy to lay their eggs in one of the partitions. They tend to sleep, however, on some of the branches of the tree above it. This is good news and makes me happy. The other day on our morning walk to Marchalejo, we saw a pack of three foxes and then a single fox so it is good that we have the three types of fox-protection: electrocution, canine and flight.

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Tuesday 12th July 2016

lavender summer cortijoblog
Today was a balmy hot day at the Cortijo and temperatures are abnormally hot for this time of year. The lavender is in full bloom and there are loads of different butterflies and bees collecting pollen from it. One of these days we will have our own colony of bees so that we can reap the benefits of this hive of activity.

There are also some beautiful flowers on the way to the swimming pool:

2016-07-12 12.50.29

2016-07-12 12.51.27

Aromatic cabbage salad – hvidkålssalat

Aromatic cabbage salad

Apparently cabbage is very popular in Denmark and this dish is similar to coleslaw but without the mayonnaise. This recipe for aromatic cabbage salad combines the cabbage and dried fruit with a simple olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice dressing.

aromatic cabbage salad

INGREDIENTS:
Thinly chopped cabbage
Vinegar
Olive oil
Star anise, ground
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper
Dried fruit (e.g. plums, figs or prunes), chopped

METHOD:
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.

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Danish potato & radish salad – kartoffelsalat

Danish potato & radish salad

Every country has a different recipe for potato salad and each household makes it their own. In this Danish potato & radish salad, the potatoes and radishes are combined with onions, chives and garlic and dressed with a mixture of sour cream or Greek yoghurt and mayonnaise.

Danish potato & radish salad - kartoffelsalatINGREDIENTS
1 kg of new potatoes, cut into chunks and cooked
Radishes (as many as you like), thinly sliced
3 spring onions or 1/2 an onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 handful of chives, chopped
2 tablespoons home-made mayonnaise
4 tablespoons Greek yoghurt/sour cream
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
salt
pepper

METHOD:
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.

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Danish Vegetarian Dishes

Danish Vegetarian Dishes

Anna and Sebastian, two Danish workawayers, prepared these Danish vegetarian dishes for Sebastian’s birthday meal. I loved their idea of preparing a delicious vegetarian meal with a Danish theme but using as much of our home-grown vegetables and produce as possible. All of the dishes are vegetarian and the patties are vegan.

The main course consisted of spicy lentil patties with a Danish potato salad and a cabbage salad, along with our normal green salad and pan-fried courgettes. Sebastian made some fresh mayonnaise in advance. He some in the potato salad and added some chilli powder to the rest and thinned it down with some lemon juice for a spicy dipping sauce for the patties.

This was followed by Danish-style pancakes with raspberries and cream.

To see the recipes, click on the photos below.

Danish vegetarian dishes: lentil patties

Dried, rapid green lentils were used for these patties and cooked in advance before adding the onions and spices. The patties are actually vegan and some of the tastiest I’ve ever had.Danish vegetarian dishes: aromatic cabbage saladGround star anise and dried plums were added to this Danish-style coleslaw.Danish vegetarian dishes: Danish potato saladIn Denmark, sour cream is generally used for this potato and radish potato salad. However, as it’s impossible to buy that here, Anna and Sebastian used Greek yoghurt instead.

Self-raising flour was used for the pancakes instead of plain flour and they were lovely and fluffy. They were flavoured with ground cardamom. Once they had been cooked, they were served with whipped cream and fresh raspberries.

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Spicy lentil patties – linsedeller

SPICY LENTIL PATTIES

Danish vegetarian dishes: lentil patties

INGREDIENTS:
Use a measuring jug to measure out the ingredients. We used a mixture of walnuts and almonds for the nuts and seeds.

200ml dried green lentils, boiled until tender
100ml nuts or seeds
100ml oats
100ml flour
100ml water
2 onions, finely chopped
3 teaspoons curry powder
3 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 pinch smoked paprika or cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon soy sauce
salt and pepper

METHOD:
Mix all the ingredients together. Heat some oil in a frying pan. Make the mixture into small patties and fry on both sides until crisp and heated through. Put on a plate and cover to keep warm.

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When does grid parity happen in the south of Spain?

A view of grid parity from someone who has been living off grid for 10 years.
The date of writing this post is 8th July 2017.

What is Grid Parity?

Grid parity  occurs when an alternative energy source can generate power at the same  price as buying power from the electricity grid. Or to put it another way: After installing an alternative energy system how long will it take the before the cost of installation will be the same as if the house had been connected to an electric company. This is called pay back time.

The Quick Answer

In case you just want a quick answer in my opinion it would take 8 and a half years.
Below I will explain how I calculated this figure.

Calculations

Our annual electricty usage is 2005 kWh per year.
This is in our  house which is not connected to the grid.
The average occupation is about 4 people.
We do not use electrity for heating, cooking or AC.
The biggest electricty use we have is the swimming pool pump.
We live a fairy normal life and we have a freezer and  fridges.
We very occasionally have to use a generator when there is a prolonged cloudy spell but the cost is minimal. Maybe 20 euros per year.

We calculate the costs of the electric company by looking at the electricty bill we have for another house. The name of the company is Iberdrola.

We use the figure of 3000 watts as the maximum amount of power that can be used at any one time. (la potencia) The figure we use for the price of electrity is 0.16 euros per  kWh. There are other expenses such as electricty tax (impuesto), equipment hire (alquiler) and VAT (IVA).

The price per year of electricity from the GRID.

The cost if we bought the electricty from the grid would be 598 euros per year.
224 for additional costs and 374 euros for the electricity.

How much our solar electrical installation would cost.
To replicate our system you would need
1250 watts of panels – 840 euros 
50 amp combined inverter charge controller 750 euros
12 x 2v Lead Acid batteries 800 amp hours. 3500 euros.

Total cost 5090 euros

Total installation cost divided by GRID cost is 8.5

So time to parity is 8.5 years

Conclusion:
There are lots of other variables such as battery life and efficiency of the batterys which we have not considered here but 8.5 years  is a good basic figure and it feels about right..  

If I lived in a city would I cut off from the grid?
No probably not. If you have solar power  you always have to be a bit conscious of the time of day and if there is sun or not. The battery technology is the most important factor.  Batterys like the TESLA powerwall sound very promising and could provide about the bare minimum which would satisfy most people. I imagine that within 10-15 years in the future we will see a green energy revolution with excellent power storage and the  demise of the internal combustion engine.

The best thing about this situation for me is that we have been here for 10 years so our electricty is now effectively free. I just hope that our existing batterys can hold out long enough so that there are very good possibilities are available when the time comes to replace them.  

Aparently  450g  of carbon dioxide is put into the atmosphere per Kwh for electricty bought from the grid.

According to these figures we have not caused 9 metric tons of C02 to be released into the atmosphere.