Thursday, 1 September 2016

Hand Harvesting at González Byass

Not all Sherry is machine harvested. González Byass are busy night-harvesting their Viña La Racha in the Pago Macharnudo Alto by hand. The vineyard is right in the centre of the DO boasting among the purest of albariza soils and 31 year old vines. Despite this year’s most unusual weather patterns, the vineyard is virtually unaffected, and the grapes are exactly what they should be: long pendulous bunches of medium density and sweet grapes with delicate skins and very low acidity. The firm has been harvesting here at night for the last five years, and with consummate care.

"And you sir, where do you come from to work the French harvest?
"From Jerez"
"Oh, a land of great wines!"
"And great harvesting machines!"
(Pedro Carabante "Peri" Diario de Jerez)

A team of 26 skilled pickers cut the bunches from every facet of the vine despite poor visibility; the moon this year is only in its first quarter and offers very little light. They are depending on lamps fixed to their heads like those of coal miners and the headlights on tractors. This is for safety reasons as well as to avoid missing any bunches. They began work at 03.00 and work till 10.00 putting the cut bunches into 15 kilo boxes which are emptied into huge plastic containers with a capacity of half a ton mounted on tractors. This is the period when the grapes are coolest, so they can arrive at Las Copas vinification plant in the best possible condition.

(foto:Jose Contreras, diariodejerez)

The next morning the grapes are pressed and the wine produced will eventually be used to replenish the twenty Tio Pepe soleras. During the  three or four days it takes to complete the vineyard they expect to produce about 90,000 kilos of grapes, a yield of about 9,500 kilos per hectare, very acceptable in terms of quality but less so in terms of quantity thanks largely to the Levante. Despite this, the Marco de Jerez will harvest about half of the entire grape production of Andalucía.

From an article by Juan Moure Jerez in yesterday’s Diario de Jerez

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