We are soon harvesting here at Quinta dos Vales; everything is prepared. Our team used the quiet time to reflect on the development of the vineyards in the last months. Follow us into the past, the present and the near future of our vines.
Wake-Up Call for the Vines
In January and February we prepared the vines for a new cycle of life while they were still in their dormancy with strongly reduced metabolism. It is always crucial to find the right moment to prune / cut off old branches and leaves to allow all the strength to go into the new branches.
The whole team of Quinta dos Vales rushed into the vineyards and started to prune. After about one month of hard work all the vines were ready to produce high-quality grapes as we managed again to find the right balance between the wake-up call and cold or even frosty nights.
Start of something new
As anticipated, hot sunny days in the end of March led to an early bud-break. The start of something new! Soon after, the first leaves were coming out healthy and we officially opened the vegetative season. In the second half of April, our vines grew vigorously and powerfully, adapting themselves to the climatic conditions. In this period, the risk of heavy rains and cold nights is always the biggest concern of the winemaking team. Fortunately, this year the climate was winemaker-friendly and the vines were allowed to grow without interference.
Less is More
About six weeks after the normal interim cycles of vine development, the first clusters started to appear. Some varieties even decided to start the flowering already.
A moment where the vineyards are changing from an ugly duckling into a princess!
This was the perfect moment to enter the vineyards again in order to proceed to the next operation: the green pruning. We drastically reduce the possible production, to allow only the primary shoots to use the available water and nutrients. Only then we achieve the perfect balance between shoots and clusters, which translates again in quality.
Industrial mass-wine producers avoid this costly work and the lowering of quantity by intensively watering and adding artificial nutrition. Boutique winemakers, however, target long-term quality instead of short-term profitability (also, these industrial wines will need to be “adjusted” with additives in the cellar to match the “target taste of the year”…).
Remember, good wine is made in the fields and not in the cellar. It is possible to make a bad wine from good grapes, but it will never be possible for a serious and honest winemaker to make a good wine with bad grapes!
Sun Roofs and Air Conditioning in the Vineyards
June and July are normally very hectic months for the winemaker team. Preventive work is the key. Our eyes must be always open as this is the time when diseases will try to take possession of the grapes. That is why you will always find one of our wine specialists in the fields, looking for possible intruders. Healthy Vines - Happy Winemakers!
It is also the time now to generate a sort of Sun Roof for the grapes against the hot sun of the Algarve. We do this by cutting the tips of the vines, to circumvent their vigor and promote the formation of new protecting leaves, which will as consequence be able to build a cover from the sun. Mother nature is often more flexible and inventive than we think.
Adding now the Atlantic breeze to this shade construction, we channelize a permanent air flow between and under the leaves which cools down the shaded grapes. Actually, a homemade Air Conditioning unit. This is one of the secrets, why the Algarve is able to produce such fresh and crispy wines despite the hot sun during July and August!
Harvest is at the doorstep
Now, on the third day of August, our vines are working to accumulate sugars and aroma precursors. The acidity is dropping at the same time, and it’s a crucial point of the year to find out when it will be time to harvest. By this date, not much more time is left. Every day we collect samples from all areas of the vine fields to find the target balance which will then give green light for the harvest.