Grape Reception Area
On arrival at the reception area of the winery the tractor backs up to the scales. The boxes are carefully unloaded to avoid any bruising of the bunches. The boxes are counted and weighed and then slowly unloaded onto the back end of the selection carpet. As the grapes are conveyed up the carpet a further ‘quality control’ selection process is carried out by two people and any bunches that are not in good condition (and have made it past Arlindo’s eagle eye in the vineyard) are removed.
An additional precaution is that the whole structure of the selection carpet is inclined backwards (the front legs are longer than the back) so that if any of the boxes come in with juiced berries, this juice, which could be fermenting and would compromise quality, runs out of the back, or bottom, of the selection carpet and is discarded.
From the upper end of the selection carpet the grapes fall into the crusher de-stemmer and are then pumped into the lagar that is being filled.
Once emptied the boxes are thoroughly washed out with water before being taken back into the vineyard by the tractor. When we have processed the entire delivery and the tractor has gone, we thoroughly hose down the equipment and stone terrace of the reception area, and sweep up any debris of leaves or twigs, so everything is clean and ready for the next load of grapes.
At the end of the day it is this sort of attention to detail and cleanliness that can really make a difference to the quality of the final wines and which enables us here at Malvedos to make great Ports.
It’s at this stage that the paperwork begins!
- The tractor load is accompanied by a form from Arlindo with the number of boxes in the load, the grape variety and the parcel or parcels from which the grapes have been picked.
- I then register the weight of the load and deduct the weight of the boxes (2Kg each empty). If the load includes grapes from different blocks each is weighed separately.
- Each lagar has its own ‘Ficha de Fermentação’ or fermentation sheet and here I also register all the Kilos and blocks that have filled it.
At the end of the Vintage all this information is very valuable and allows us to work out the total yield of the Quinta in Kilos; in pipes of grapes (1 pipe = 750Kg); and in Kilos per wine – both by variety and also of each individual parcel of each variety.
All of this information gets put into our viticultural database, which has data going back many years, and allows us to identify trends in production yields and quality, the best parcels, and much more.
It also gives us complete traceability of the grapes that make up each fermentation. If any lagar, or lote of wine, turned out particularly well for example, we know exactly where the grapes came from for next year.