The harvest of hope

The days just before the harvest days are almost like organizing a wedding. Looking up at the sky again and again, general excitement, an underlying feeling of nervousness that increases as the day gets closer.  The most important task during the preceding days is to visit each plot to see the maturity level of the different varieties of grape and to start doing the initial preparations.

All of us are convinced about respecting the rhythm of the grapes, waiting for them to be ready. The start date is essential for the harvest to be successful and to ensure its quality; the precise moment of maturity, not too soon and not too late. So much so that on Friday, 17 August we harvested the first 2,000 kilos of Macabeo from the Plana with the aim of making a starter yeast to ensure a better fermentation. But we didn’t get the green light until Monday, 20 August. We hadn’t harvested so late for five years.

This year is the year of hope and optimism and a harvest of changes and normality in terms of dates.  We have returned to the harvests of the past, those that began in late August, moving away from the last one: the earliest one in history.

There is no doubt about it that the harvest is the highlight of every winery. Early in the morning, at 7, all the grape pickers are lined up, ready to start. Work is perfectly divided between them: the entire team harvests the grapes and carefully places them in boxes; they take it in turns to empty the boxes into the tractor once they are full.  Everyone takes part in a well-thought out process.  Miguel is so fast and efficient that he even has time to help his colleagues when he has finished his part. Once the tractor is full, the tractor driver heads immediately for the winery – located right in the middle of the estate.

Josep, on the scales, will measure the quality of the grapes brought in on the trailers and then a decision is made about the deposit that each one will go to, always according to plot and variety.

Meanwhile, in the laboratory, maturation and analytical monitoring is done and any developments are noted. The winery is impregnated with the smell of harvest, the smell of fermented grape juice never fails to surprise us.

The hustle and bustle of these days cannot be compared to any other time of the year but as Pepe always says, “when you are enthusiastic about your work, convinced about it and working as a team, anything is possible.”

Joan, responsible for the vineyard and oenologist at Raventós i Blanc, is very happy about the wine-growing year; although he says that in rainy years there is more work to be done because of the fungal diseases that may appear, especially in biodynamics and working with the philosophy of maximum respect for the wines without using any chemicals. He believes that this harvest could be very similar to that of 2013, one of the best we remember in recent years, with exceptional acidities.

Every day is a new opportunity to start over, for all of us to learn and to enjoy what we like best. Work that follows our philosophy of leaving nothing to chance; where methodology, accuracy and respect for nature go hand in hand to achieve long-aged sparkling wines, where climate, soils and vines, are the main protagonists. Sparkling wines that tell us about their soils, the most mineral soils in the world.

The harvest of Clos del Serral

As part of the adventure of the harvest, we always like to highlight one of the most festive days on the estate, the harvest of the Clos del Serral plot.

This year it was on Wednesday, September 5. As always and in keeping with our good customs, at 8 am we were all very punctual, standing in a circle in the plaza. The fresh bunches of grapes were waiting for us, voluptuous under their green leaves. It is a pleasure to hold them in our hands, to feel their weight for a moment before placing them with the utmost care in the buckets. In the vineyard, we make an initial selection from the buckets and place them in boxes of 15 kg, making sure the grapes don’t break and oxidize before getting to the winery. Once the tractor arrives, Pepe makes a second selection and when the grape gets to the Mas del Serral garage, we make a new manual selection grape by grape with much concentration, care and rigour.

Thanks to plots such as the Clos you discover a very peculiar way of travelling between vines, discovering and getting to know each and every one of its details; the feeling of being rooted here where we are from, here where we came from.

It is in fact this small and unique plot of the family farm, with vines planted in 1954 and facing north, where an exceptional sparkling wine was born, the wine that Pepe has always dreamed of making: Mas del Serral The first vintage was in 2007 and we only bottled 2.735 bottles; in order to enjoy the vintage 2018 will have to wait until 2028 due to its ageing on lees for 100 months.

We have come to where we are today very naturally, with the passing of the years, perhaps because we felt driven towards deepening the relationship with our land, perhaps because we are always trying to go one step further. As if nothing of what has happened for 21 generations had changed us.

Vineyard and winery are more connected than ever, some long and intense days on the farm await us, but they are filled with a contagious expectation. According to the analytical parameters of musts and the recently fermented wines, the wines of the 2018 vintage will be powerful and concentrated and very expressive. We will have to wait and see!

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