Previously we had sampled some rather excellent wine from a local vineyard in the north of the island (near Puntagorda). At the time we had been told that during the grape harvest the vineyard needed volunteers to help out. There was no money involved, but a good breakfast and lunch would be provided.
Naturally we were interested in helping out with this – personally I had never been involved with this type of thing, and I was curious to see how it all worked.
The day came and a friend of ours arranged to take us up there, together with some Dutch sailor type friends who were also interested in joining for the same reasons.
The vineyard is about an hours’ drive and is located very close to where some devastating wildfires had been a month or so before. Luckily the place was untouched; other areas were not so lucky.
We were supplied with grape shears, a box for the grapes and a plastic tub to sit on. The picking started pretty much immediately before the sun became too hot. We had all brought water to drink and a hat to protect our heads. The hats were a bit of a mixed bag, as were the heads filling them.
Cutting the grapes wasn’t so hard, but finding them and untangling them from the other branches/wires/each other was sometimes frustrating. We’d already been told that we had to collect every grape, even if they had been dropped onto the ground, but NO leaves!
The Spanish volunteers were cutting the leaves out of the way to make the access to the grapes easier. When we saw this we did it too which made the whole thing much easier.
After about an hour or so the shout went up for breakfast; we walked back to the farmhouse and enjoyed a breakfast of orange juice, bread, fish, goat cheese, onions(!!) and jam….all as much as you could eat!
After breakfast it was back to work… I was glad that I had my rather splendid Panama hat (4.90€ from the Chinese shop) as the sun was now fully up.
Another few hours of picking grapes ensued, including several rows of grapes that were few in number and small in size. Every little helps…
Before we knew it there were no more grapes to pick. The owner looked around at some vines further away but declared that we were done for the day and it was lunch time. Back to the house for a splendid feast of rabbit stew (it must have been a big rabbit…), papas arrugadas (look them up), tuna and cucumber salad, bread and as much wine as you thought you could safely drink without being impolite.
The red wine was served cooled (the correct temperature for serving red wine is actually not room temperature – that’s a myth) and it was delicious, as was the white wine and some liquor made from the prickly pear cactus fruit. Incidentally the red wine was served from a plastic Coca-Cola bottle…scandalous!
The afternoon continued with a look around the winery and the many stainless vats containing more than 2500 ltrs of wine in each one. Naturally we all ordered lots of wine and the owner offered to deliver it to the boat for us – excellent!