The past two weeks we have enjoyed some intermittent showers at Quinta dos Malvedos and Quinta do Tua. When we visited last Thursday, 3 May, there were a few showers as well as periods of sun and overcast, in fact conditions seemed to vary from one cloud to the next!
Alexandre Mariz, our viticulturist, said the past two weeks have been quiet, with steady progress made on the despampa, the process of manually thinning the shoots to leave just the two strongest on each bud, and that in just a couple weeks we will have completed the first pass through both quintas. From the window of the train, which passes at the foot of the vineyards, it was possible to see clearly that the Touriga Franca just above the river west of the adega had been completed, but the vines in the Port Arthur vineyard were not yet done. The Touriga Franca vine we are monitoring higher up on the east side of the quinta has been thinned, and you can see the pairs of shoots growing from each node (you can click to enlarge the image, then use your browser back button to return to this article).
The view across the new plantations at Tua is visibly greener than our last photo from early April. In the foreground is an area of 5-year-old Touriga Nacional, whilst the areas beyond show fine green stripes along the outer edge of each terrace, which means the newly planted vines are settling in and putting on leaf.
In the new plantation we have finished putting up the posts for the trellis system, and are just doing a bit more stone crushing. In this photo you can see the bright green tufts of the new vines, as well as the large hunks of schist which have been raked into the centre of the terrace. Later the tractor will pass through, crushing the rock and neatly turning it in and raking a smooth surface to the soil.
One more change we noticed since our last visit, which cannot be captured in photos, is the return of the birds and the increase in birdsong. It is a good sign of the health and equilibrium of our vineyards.