How we run the vintage

For those of you who would like to know how we run the vintage here in the Douro, here is the rough outline: my cousin Charles over sees all the wineries and wine making. He is based at Bomfim which is at Pinhão, so from here he can reach every part of the Douro in a reasonable amount of time each day using his 4×4 (dodging the crazy small truck drivers who race about the twisty Douro roads over-loaded with grapes). He appoints a head honcho at each of our wineries, Miles at Cavadinha, Mario at Vesuvio, Joao-Pedro at Bomfim, Ricardo at Senhora de Ribeira, Antonio at Sol, Luis at Roriz (where my son is working) and of course Henry at Malvedos. Each one of these guys is entirely responsible for every single load of grapes that comes into ‘his’ winery and exactly how they are selected and handled. This is real hands-on stuff. Nobody sits in an office. They will now be working seven days a week for the next 4 or so weeks and quite a few nights’ sleep will be interrupted. They need to be pretty able and to have a good sense of humour. I and my brother Dominic and my cousins Johnny and Rupert, spend our time between the Gaia lodges and the Douro Quintas while we try to manage our normal work with that of the vintage as well. Peter, at his last vintage gives us the benefit of his long experience.

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