Sunday, 17 August 2014

17.8.14 Chiclana Salt Pans; Gonzalez Byass Night Harvesting

Chiclana is not only famous for wine, but for salt. A great deal was produced in the past, but the industry has declined for reasons of viability – or perceived viability. Now two young men, Adrian Sanchez and Antonio Jesus Rivero, are convinced that the three disused salt pans in Chiclana could be viable in this consumer age, and they are already in negotiations with the local council for permission to reopen them.

Salt pans at Chiclana (voz digital)
There is definitely a market for artisanal salt in Europe. Both men have degrees in Environmental Sciences from UCA (Cadiz University) and have specialised in marshes, wetlands and salt pans, winning prizes for their work. Some 25 hectares of salt pans could employ 30 people.  To Adrian and Antonio, all you need to succeed is to believe. Chiclana already has a museum of wine and salt, which shows the importance they once had. Let’s hope they succeed!

Gonzalez Byass is night-harvesting in their 15.5 hectare vineyard “Viña Racha”, part of the 120 hectare Finca San Antonio in the pago Macharnudo. The best musts will eventually refresh the Tio Pepe soleras. These grapes will be taken quickly to the GB vinification plant, “Las Copas”. These vines are being picked by hand, by 40 people wearing “hi-viz” jackets, in almost total darkness except for the lights from small tractors and those on their heads. They are filling plastic crates with a capacity of 15 kilos and are paid 25% extra for working at night. Many work in the vineyards during the rest of the year.

Night harvesting at Bonzalez Byass (diario de Jerez)
At night the temperatures are a good deal cooler, which is good for the grapes, avoiding evaporation and potential oxidation, but there is dewfall and this adds to the feeling of cold which the pickers feel.  The grapes go through a sorting table, and any which may be unsuitable are discarded. Viña Racha will take 3 or 4 days to pick.

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