We celebrated the last days of official winter by immersing ourselves in “the wine experience”.
First, there was the annual wine festival in Cretas. Dozens of wine makers from all over Matarranya, Bajo Aragon and Terra Alta (and even a few from further away) congregated in the little town to compete for various prizes – and for the attention of lots and lots of visitors (writing this I realise I have no idea if there were hundreds of thousands… lots and lots, ok?).
The concept was simple: at the entrance you could buy a ticket with 10 vouchers, which allowed you 10 consumptions. This could be cheap or expensive wine, white or red (and some rose), very chemical or completely organic, and you could either drink it all or taste it and spit it out later… not sure many people were doing the latter. Oh and you’d get a free wine glass with your ticket as well.
We made our way there after work on Saturday – a little too soon apparently, many people were still at lunch. Very soon, it got very busy, and we made our way through several of the stalls. There were so many nice wines to remember – the Naturalis from Cellers Batea (ecological wine), the Merlot 2009 at Venta d’Aubert, the Chesa Crianza 2012, the red wine from the cooperativa in Cretas, and my personal favourite – the Gewurztraminer from the vineyards between Cretas and Calaceite (forgot the name, shame on me! I do remember the fruity taste though). We had a great tasting experience at the Crial stall as well – will need to go back there for more tasting and choosing wine for our B&B though. They are our “neighbours” from the nearby village of Lledo – and the vineyards at the beginning of the road to our house are all going into Crial wine bottles…
Sunday, we went to help friends to prune their vines. This needs to be done between January and March, and (o no!) March is approaching its end already… so it was time for them to call in the cavalry. With promises that the cavalry in question would get wine out of it in the end, the cavalry came running. The cavalry even brought their cavalry; in our case, our 3 Workaway volunteers (helped a lot!) & 2 dogs (helped a lit less).
The trick to cutting grapevines seems to be this: you cut / saw / break off everything you possibly can, and leave only 3 to 4 “arms” for each plant, and one little start of a twig for every arm. It takes the vine so much energy to feed all of its branches; the less different branches they have to provide for, the better quality everything will be.
I will try to post updates with pictures for every stage; in May we’ll need to go back for more pruning (leaves), in August for even more (making sure the grapes get enough sun) and then in October or so, it will be time for harvest. I’m very much looking forward to the finished product, but in the mean time I’m so excited that I’m learning how to do this… I even had a go at pruning our own grapevines, which have been neglected for years and are very hard to find in between the grasses and weeds now. But we’ll see, maybe we will get a bit more grapes out of them now!