The rhythm of the day at Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos winery is set by the grape deliveries: most days on average we will process six deliveries, though when it’s Touriga Nacional being picked, that can slow down to just four.
Everyone usually pitches in to help with the first unloading from the truck and stacking the crates on the scale to be weighed. Once the statistics are taken, Alexandre and Juca will tip out the grapes onto the sorting carpet one bin at a time while Carlos (and Lisa while she was with us) does a quick review to pull out the odd leaf, mangled bunch or cluster of dried-out grapes. Our pickers are expected to do the main triage in the vineyard as they cut, so the grapes that come into the winery are generally in very good condition. The grapes will fall off the end of the sorting carpet and into a machine in the lower level of the winery which will de-stem and crush the grapes, before pumping them up a pipe into the lagar.
The empty crate is handed off to Fonseca (in photo below) who runs it into the washing machine which cleans the crate with a jet of water, and Antonio catches it out the other end and stacks it up. Downstairs of the adega Tiago will be at the destemmer to rake down the stems shooting out of the machine.
Meanwhile, Alexandre, our tractorista, has handed off to Henry the delivery notice, which Arlindo filled out and signed up in the vineyard to record when and where the grapes were picked. Henry records this information along with the weight of the grapes delivered, the baumé, and any other observations about the quality of the grapes, which will all go into a detailed database of all our grapes and wines. The scan code on the back of your bottle of any Graham’s Port gives us the information to trace the making of that wine right back to these entries about the grape deliveries made on the day of harvest.
Alexandre often then goes into the winery up to the lagar that is being filled, and rakes down the grapes as they pile up at the mouth of the pipe which has brought them up from the crusher-destemmer, or helps out on the sorting carpet.
When the grapes are done, the crates go back onto the truck and Alexandre returns to the vineyards for the next load. Meanwhile, the adega team hose down everything – the weight scale, the sorting carpet, the crate washer, and the stone terrace of the entire receiving area – ready for the next delivery.
The teamwork means this is an incredibly efficient and rapid process, and we can unload 2000 kilos of grapes and send Alexandre back up to the vineyards in just 20 minutes.