It is nearly a month since we last visited Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos to check on the progress of our Touriga Franca vine. During this time the viticultural team and caseiros all take their holidays – not only because at this point there is not much more we can do in the vineyards but watch and wait, but to get a deep breath and a good rest before we start the preparations and countdown to harvest.
The past month the weather has been steadily clear and sunny and warm, with high temperatures most days in the low 30’s, which is fairly normal for us in the central region of the Douro. We have had no significant rainfall, just a few drops two nights ago.
A month ago the pintor – the colour change of the grapes from green to deep blue-purple – had only just begun. Now, most grapes have turned colour. Our Touriga Franca vine at Quinta dos Malvedos (see first photo) looks flourishing and healthy from its foliage, but unfortunately it is one of the vines that suffered from poor fruit set – there are very few bunches, and they are uneven, with very few grapes, some mature and purple but many more still green, and of all different sizes (left hand photo). The next vine over, however, has some lovely full bunches, ripening well and more evenly (right hand photo). Click on the images to view them full size, then use your browser back button to return to the blog.
This week was the first collection of samples for testing in the lab for maturity studies, we will follow up on this next week for the results of the analysis.
Over at Quinta do Tua, our new plantation is looking healthy and was enjoying a drink of water – we decided to irrigate this week. In the Douro, as a rule, irrigation is only permitted in the first year of a new plantation, to help the infant vines get established. For this purpose we have a “portable” system of drip feed irrigation hoses, which has been put in place at Tua for this year, and will be dismantled and can used another time when we have a new vineyard elsewhere.
To run the drip feed irrigation system over the entire 5 hectare plantation will take a week, as we water one section at a time and only in the mornings when it is cooler and the water has a chance to sink into the ground. In the hot sunny afternoons it is likely the water would evaporate first, as the stony schist soil gets very hot in the sun. Some of the young vines have even produced small grape clusters, but we will not harvest or vinify these – typically we do not vinify until the fourth year after planting, depending on conditions and the quality of the grapes.