Deluge in the Douro

October 15th 09 036

Last Tuesday night (7th October) we had an almighty rainstorm. It had not rained for months and the ground was very hard and parched. So when the rain did come it was not easy for the earth to absorb it. We had an absolute deluge coursing through the vineyards and even carefully (and expensivley) built drainage pipes and metal grates designed to collect excess water and prevent erosion, became blocked with stones and earth. 

October 15th 09 025The cover crop that we have planted between the rows on the vertical vineyards worked really well and there is little damage in these vineyards.

October 15th 09 013These pictures shows what happens when more than 60 mm falls in one night. Bear in mind that it has not rained more than 60mm in any entire month this year except for January. So to have this amount of rain in one night was really extraodinary and very tough to cope with.

The only good news was that we were due to pick our very last few grapes (Roriz) on Wednesday at Alvito (my father’s vineyard), the day after the deluge. Our team spent the day clearing tracks, grates and roads and then we picked the last few grapes on Thursday morning, without rain. 

October 15th 09 011This weekend very fine weather has returned (see Noemia yesterday morning in the mist) but all my neigbouring farmers can be found in their vineyards clearing up the mess that the rain caused. Some of the roads that they normally use to get to their vineyards are completely impassable.

We often say that we work in what is probably the toughest vineyard area in the world in terms of geography. But visitors mostly just see the beauty of our valley. These pictures show some of the reality.

We wanted rain, but not like this!!

Paul Symington

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