2011 harvest: first control of the grapes development cycle

2011 maturity control in Quinta Vale d'AgodinhoAfter one month of absence due to my wedding, which was in July 15th, I am now back with fresh news from the vineyards.

As usual, we make our first maturity control on August 10th and this year was not different. This first contact with the new grapes reveals a first rough idea of when we will start harvesting this year. Some of you may have heard that the very warm Spring of 2011 culminated in an early fruit setting and quick maturity during the first weeks. In some regions of Spain and France, producers plan to start harvesting in the end of August, beginning of September, 2 weeks earlier than normal. Also in Portugal the maturity is ahead of the traditional schedule. In Alentejo, the south of Portugal, there are grape producers already harvesting.

For us it is still too early to start harvesting. First, because this first control showed that we are still around one month ahead of a full and complete maturity. And second, because grapes for Port Wine normally are harvested slightly over ripened, to achieve flavors of prunes, figs or blackberries.

If you read our previous post about the mildew on the vineyards, you may be wondering whether this constraint will affect the production. Indeed, it will be necessary to take extra attention to the grapes that are collected. There are still some dry bunches on the vines together with ripe and healthy ones that are in good conditions. But these dry ones must be avoided, removed and left on the ground. Otherwise, they would give a vegetal, woody flavor to the wine that we don’t want at all. In some bunches, the top is fresh and good while the bottom is dry and bad. So an even more careful selection of the grapes collected is going to be necessary.

The first estimate for the beginning of the harvest in our main property, Quinta Vale d’Agodinho, is the 12th of September, or earlier if temperatures continue on the up the 30sº C and if it doesn’t rain. These are the figures of the first maturity control:

Alcohol on August 10th, Beginning of the harvest starting

2007 10.49%, September 19th

2009 11.86%, September 14th

2010 10.05%, September 18th

2011 12.07% ?

As usual, I welcome very much your questions and comments!