Grupo Estévez has invested 1.5 million euros in state of the art equipment to improve production processes in the bodega. The number of self-emptying tanks and pneumatic presses has been increased while the fermentation plant has been re-designed and equipped with the latest software technology to better control fermentation allowing an increased capacity of 7,000 butts.
The firm, which comprises Valdespino, Marqués del Real Tesoro and La Guita, owns 800 hectares of vineyard, 12% of all DO vineyards, making it the largest grower in the Sherry zone – and the largest in Andalucía. All this demonstrates the importance the firm attaches to the vineyard as a fundamental part of its philosophy of highlighting the origin and singularity of the land which is unique in the world. Estévez is the only bodega in the area to use raw materials which are 100% local, those being the grapes and the fortification alcohol, and the firm says that this is helping to achieve a sustainable agro-alimentary chain in which the vineyard is perfectly integrated and which, unlike other vineyards in the area, is profitable, and helping to improve the image of Sherry.
|New fermentation tanks at Estevez (foto:diariodejerez)|
Estévez says that this investment not only increases the daily capacity for grape reception, but also offers the opportunity to start the process of traceability from vineyard to wine by classifying the mostos by their individual vineyard and improving grape selection. The health and sugar content of the grapes are key parameters for their destiny and the price paid if they are bought in. New paving has also been installed to improve hygiene at the plant. “This technological development is in response to our exhaustive and demanding parameters of control to produce wines of exceptional quality, the benchmark of Sherry.
With reference to the harvest, they are expecting a harvest of very good quality but with smaller bunches than last year with each grape weighing slightly less. This, combined with the losses due to mildew in Sanlúcar and Trebujena in spring, will produce a total harvest about 10% down on that of last year.
Bodegas Barbadillo has begun the harvest and they foresee it finishing on 9th September. Thy say the quality is excellent with potential alcohol readings of 11.5ᴼ-12ᴼ, and are hoping the temperatures will relent and allow a normal ripening. The Barbadillo vineyards, which extend to 500 hectares, make the firm the second largest vineyard owner in the area, and they were thankfully spared the ravages of the mildew outbreak in spring.
Of the 11 million kilos they hope to pick, some 2½ million will come from their own vineyards, Santa Lucía and Gibalbín, while the rest will be bought in from 35 growers on continuing contracts in the best vineyards. The harvest is being collected both by hand and by machine. Mechanical harvesting takes place during the night and early morning, while hand picking is done in the morning. This way the grapes arrive cooler and more controllable, and it is more comfortable for the workers.
Chardonnay and Palomino grapes for the firm’s sparkling Beta Brut were picked at the end of July as well as the Sauvignon Blanc for Blanco de Blancos and Moscatel for the semi sparkling Vi. Merlot will be picked starting on Monday and the other red varieties, Tempranillo, Tintilla, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot will soon follow.