The past two weeks or more have been incredibly warm and sunny in Gaia, and also up in the Douro. Our vines, along with all kinds of plant and insect life, are flourishing.
Miles Edlmann, our research viticulturalist, maintains meticulous records of the progress of our vineyards, from one end of the Douro to the other. At this point in time, the development of our vines is running about five days ahead of average.
The next key date in their progress will be flowering. At Quinta da Cavadinha, the Warre’s flagship quinta roughly 3.5 km north of the Douro in the Pinhão valley where much of Miles’s research activity is based, has an average flowering date of 23 May. For Graham’s river front quintas 8 to 12 km upriver, Vila Velha, Malvedos and Tua, he would normally expect flowering 5 days earlier than that, and at Malhadas, well to the east in the Douro Superior, flowering is likely to be fully 10 days earlier.
Miles is naturally out and in the vineyards as much as possible to do his job and generally see how things are going, and lucky for the blog, he has a new camera to take with him as he makes his rounds.
Click into the first thumbnail below to open up the photo in a full blog page, then use the hyperlinks at the foot of each image to scroll through the gallery and learn more about the vines, flowers and insect life in our vineyards at this time of year.
This photo shows clearly the short spur left from last year’s cane which was left as a basis for this year’s growth, which is coming along well.
Touriga Francesa vines, tendrils, leaves and incipient grapes. The clusters at this time are called “cachos” in Portuguese, a term which is used for this very early stage of phenological development.
Miles’s research has proven the value of cover crops particularly in vertical plantings such as those at Vila Velha. All kinds of tiny wildflowers have self-seeded within our planted crops.
The cover crops help prevent erosion, and are also used to manage nutrient levels in the soil, for example we choose clovers to add nitrogen on upper slopes. This tiny wild sweet pea will also contribute to the nitrogen in the soil.
Lavender grows wild all over our vineyards, and scents the air.
This is one of several varieties of Esteva, some of which are known as Rock Rose, others as Gum Cistus. Its scent is a wonderful blend of floral and herbal aromas, which come through clearly in Graham’s ports.
All our vineyards are managed with minimum intervention, and are a haven for wildlife of all kinds. Insects thrive and are a basis for a rich eco-system.
Ladybirds are particularly welcome, as they provide a natural control for aphids – the tiny green insects clinging to the stem of this flower.
Poppies at Vila Velha in the late afternoon. This view looks downriver and Quinta de Roriz, the Pratts & Symington Lda property, is visible in the bend of the river on the left bank.