Are you wondering what we do up in the Douro all winter? Whilst there is a lot of work going on in the Graham’s vineyards, which we will write about shortly, we also have another harvest we have to finish before year end: the olives.
Graham’s quintas are typically only about 50% under vine, the balance of the land being either left wild or planted with olives and citrus. When and where possible the olives are harvested and pressed at the local cooperative. The resulting oil supplies the family, the quintas’ own tables, and the lunch room and kitchen at our offices in Gaia, year round.
We thought you might be interested to see the olive harvest. You may also be interested and amused to know what it took to get this story! The first week I was due to go up and join Miles at Quinta da Vila Velha to see the start of harvest there, but Miles called to say it was postponed. The local cooperative was shut down, waiting for parts for a broken bit of equipment, and we have no capacity for holding the olives, we have to be able to take them directly to the cooperative after picking. The second week, the cooperative was back in business, and Miles and I agreed I should come up on the Wednesday. It wasn’t till around 5:00 AM that morning, as I was getting ready to catch the train up river, that it dawned on me it was the day of a general strike in Portugal, so there was no relying on the train service to run to the Douro. The third week, I did succeed in getting up river by car with Miles as far as Cavadinha, the lead quinta for our sister brand, Warre’s. Whilst checking out the state of the drainage in the heaving rain, Miles got the call that the olive harvesting that day at Vila Velha was being cancelled, due to the rain. Finally, week 4, I gave up on reaching Vila Velha with Miles and went to Quinta do Vale de Malhadas, just beyond Vesúvio in the Douro Superior to – at last! – watch and photograph the olive harvest.
The wait was worth it – the day was spectacular, perfect harvest weather: clear and sunny, albeit at around 10° C it was 15 to 25 degrees cooler than we are accustomed to for the grape harvest.
Follow the harvest in our photo gallery: click on an image, which will open in a new blog page, then follow the links at the bottom of each photo back and forth through the series. When you want to return to the blog, click on the post title at the top of the individual photo display page.