Arlindo Pinto and the Roga

For the next few days, when we break for lunch at mid-day, I am going to try to post a short description of each part of the day and our winemaking cycle, so you can follow along from vine to barrel.

I intended to post this yesterday but we had a bit of excitement as a result of an equipment failure – why does this always happen in the middle of the vintage? – so I am only getting to this now.

Arlindo and Rupert Symington
Arlindo and Rupert Symington

I thought it would be interesting to start with a description of the daily activities of our caseiro (vineyard manager) at Malvedos; Arlindo Pinto. He lives on the estate and manages the vineyard under Alexandre Mariz our viticultural manager for Malvedos (again a Douro man through and through) who in turn reports to Pedro Leal de Costa,  Graham’s head of viticulture. Arlindo was born and raised in the Douro. He has lived and worked at Malvedos for 8 years through the bitter winters and the hot summers and knows the property and every vine like the back of his hand. During the vindima, his main responsibility is to direct the ‘roga’ (picking team) as to where and when to pick, based on the picking schedule set out by Charles.

Dawn yesterday - clear skies again
Dawn yesterday - clear skies again

Arlindo leaves his house at Malvedos, located just a short distance away from the winery and the main quinta house, every day at 5.20am in his Toyota truck to collect the ‘roga’ in the nearby villages of Tua and Carlão.

 

By 7am he is with the ‘roga’ in the vineyard supervising the picking. At 9am they take a break for half an hour and eat breakfast known as the ‘bucha’. They bring their own food – often bread, cheese, and chouriço (smoked sausage). After their break they continue picking until lunch at 1pm.

 

Roga picking grapes
Roga picking grapes

They each bring their own lunch and eat sitting in the shade in the vineyard. Bread, salpicão, chouriço, sometimes a fresh tomato with salt. We provide water (and wine at lunch time) throughout the day.

 
Refreshed and rested, the picking starts again at 2pm and goes on until 4 or 5 when Arlindo drives them all home again.
 
 
Arlindo and roga
Arlindo and roga

Arlindo usually only returns around 6pm. All my wine making team then eats with him in his house, a meal cooked by his wife and a helper.

A bit about the Malvedos ‘roga’:

The roga are experienced and most have worked for us in many previous vindimas. They know how to select the bunches in the vineyard and how to do a careful pre-selection before the grapes get to our sorting table at the winery.

  • Composed of men and women. Today we have 23 in total.
  • 10 women cutting – sometimes they sing. They have a more delicate touch than the men, most people think.
  • 10 men cutting – they do not sing, but they do have some un-printable jokes
  • 3 men carrying boxes to the tractor
  • Yesterday the average picking per person was 359 Kg each

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