2008 Harvest – early report from the vineyard
The 2008 growing season has been an unusual year for the Alentejo.
The cold, wet winter weather, continued throughout the spring months, only petering out with the arrival of the summer in June. Budbreak arrived late, at the end of March. Inclement weather resulted in uneven pollination, fewer bunches, and smaller berries, especially in Aragonez and Touriga Nacional, with the Syrah showing more normal behavior.
4 days of very hot weather over 40 degrees in June, also had a diminutive effect on the size of this year’s grape berries. This mini- heatwave was followed by a long, dry moderate summer of warm daytime temperatures, alleviated by cool evenings, with average variations of up to 20 degrees between daytime and night time temperature, even during the normally ‘scorcher’ months of July and August. These were optimal growing conditions for acid development and phenolic ripening of the grapes, which are in a healthy state at the start of harvest, small berries with a desirably high skin to pulp ratio.
Irrigation needs during the year have been moderate, due to good humidity levels in the soil at the beginning of the growing season, and lower than normal ‘evapotranspiration’. Since verasion at the end of July, sampling has been done every 5 days to monitor the ripening process.
Throughout the growing season, Hans has followed the vineyard development not just from his quad bike, but also from the sky in his Cessna 182, where he takes aerial photography (infrared) to monitor the health of the vine leaves.
This year’s excellent weather conditions has followed us through to the start of harvest on August 25, and allowed a very leisurely, slow start, picking very selectively only the ripened grapes. We are predicting a lower production, but a very high grape quality.