According to Vincent and Jorge: “2011 was marked by 10% more winter rain and abundant fruit set in May, 2 weeks in advance. A 44*C heat wave in June followed, the hottest June on record since 1939. Consequential summer ripening resulted in less juice per grape, with a lot of concentration, and the harvest started 2 weeks in advance. The small quantity of juice in the grapes = more skin/kilo of grapes, and that makes for very good aroma and color extraction. The 2011 ports and Douro DOC wines will both be very promising and fascinating to follow.”
My godson Theo Vailly from France and brother-in-law Brian Smith from the USA both helped at harvest; an intense (and laborious) experience to include unloading and sorting incoming grapes, emptying out lagars & foot treading in the lagars, and waking up at ungodly hours to add the brandy at the strategic moment, not before and not after, all fueled by hearty food and ample quantities of wine and port!
Guests staying with us pick up on the harvest’s spirit and feel part of it, we even have guests who inquire well before the harvest if they can help out! A highlight is to put on swim trunks (or shorts for the ladies) and get in the lagar: line-up formation with others to slowly tread in the epoxy-lined open cement vat, local music and singing to keep the pace, as you gently tread to “massage” the grape skins until complete disentegration. The resulting extraction and color is so very key to the making of a top-notch port, long live foot treading!