Quinta dos Malvedos was bought by W & J Graham in 1890, and to commemorate the Centenary we decided to design a special label for our 1990 Quinta dos Malvedos Vintage Port. My father James had the bright idea of using an image of the top of the beautifully worked 1890 wrought iron gate to enhance the existing label. This gate is one of half a dozen or so that I have spotted in the Alijo area all clearly made by the same master craftsman, each one more intricate than the next. Actually we all liked the new label so much that we decided to keep on using it on all subsequent Quinta dos Malvedos Vintages.
This gate was the original entrance to the Quinta house, and in the tradition of all early Douro roads was wide enough for an ox cart to pass through, but sadly not a modern car. From the early part of the 20th Century visitors would leave their cars near Sao Mamede station at the bottom of the hill and continue the journey through the Quinta on foot or by mule or ox cart. When we restored the Quinta house in 1982 we made a new road entrance next to the gate, and I don’t believe that the gate has ever been opened since ! To rise to the challenge I will be taking a can of WD40 with me when I go up next week. Of course the bigger hurdle may be finding the key…
As we were emptying one of the robotic treading lagars of barroca and running off the free run juice, Ian Symington and his grandson Patrick Hall payed us a surprise visit – good timing as its a fine opportunity to taste the young wine.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
During the harvest, our sales team brings clients to visit the vineyards and see the winery in operation. This morning João Machete and our German agents came by. We were not able to convince them to stay and help unload the next tractor of grapes however…