Tracking the Season – 5 April

Since our first post to begin tracking the progress in our vineyards this year we finally have had a little rain.  Alexandre Mariz, Graham’s viticulturist responsible for Quinta dos Malvedos and Quinta do Tua, said there was some rain over the weekend of 31 March – 1 April, and also that we had had just few drops last night (night of 4 April).  (For more about the rain situation this winter, and why we are so grateful for this news, see the latest Douro Insider).

First we headed up to Quinta do Tua, to inspect the work in the new plantation – more details of that in another post.  But in this view across the newly replanted vineyards you can see a very faint haze of green beginning to show, as the newly planted vines sprout their first leaves and shoots.

View across Quint do Tua, 5 April 2012, 10:35

Next, over to Quinta dos Malvedos, to check on our Touriga Francesa vine.  As you can see, the leaves have burst forth from the buds that were left on each spur after pruning last winter.

Touriga Franca at Quinta dos Malvedos, 5 April 2012, 11:59

In fact, if you look closely, you can see the first miniature grape bunch has already formed on one shoot – look on the left-pointing shoot in this photo.  Click to enlarge the image, then use your browser back button to return to this article.

The day started with a heavy cloud cover, which began breaking up (see view of Tua above) and by mid day it was brilliantly sunny and warm – so warm, that we were able to smell esteva before we saw it.  This is a type of rock rose very typical of the Douro, and its fragrance – imagine something halfway between an old fashioned rose and eucalyptus – is often distinctly discernable in Graham’s or Quinta dos Malvedos Vintage ports.  That photo, by the way, was taken at 13:03, so you can see how the morning’s clouds cleared away!

After lunch, we continued our walk through Quinta dos Malvedos, as Alexandre checked the progress and health of our vineyards.  So far, so good – many of the grafts made just two or three weeks ago have already taken and begun to sprout leaves.  With the progress of the vines, we will shortly begin despampa – the thinning of the shoots to leave just the one strongest on each bud.  In tandem with this, we also remove any suckers that are sprouting from the americano rootstocks – we don’t want the energy of the vine going into these non-productive shoots.  Alexandre was cheered to see this 7-spot ladybug on a Touriga Nacional vine – these benign insects are a good sign of equilibrio – a balanced and healthy environment in our vineyards.

By 16:00 however, it was very dark and cloudy again and the first few drops of rain began to fall.  It showered gently and intermittently the rest of the evening.  As the blogger was leaving Tua, there was a rainbow over the quinta, but later in the evening Dominic Symington, who is spending the holiday weekend at Quinta do Vesuvio in the Douro Superior, sent in this spectacular photo of a double rainbow which is very clearly ending in our sister brand Dow’s Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira.  Good auspices for the year ahead!

Double rainbow 5 April 2012, 19:30 which ends in Dow's Quinta da Sanhora da Ribeira
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