The most beautiful time of the year in the Douro Valley has just arrived: the harvest season! It’s the fulcral moment of the creation of both Port and Douro wine, the hopes of a year’s work painted in grape tones.
Most people have a very romantic idea of what the harvest season really implies; although it is a festive season, is also very hard working, with many sleepless hours for the ones to working on the fields, the ones welcoming tourists in the visitors’ centers, as well as for the ones busy on the laboratories, making the secret alchemy of flavours and aromas that will turn into wine.
Therefore, I went to the beautiful Quinta da Roêda, which belongs to the Port wine brand Croft – which has one of the most beautiful wine cellars of Porto – to unlock the secrets of the harvest season for you.
At the end of the article, you can find the directions to get there, and the prices of their wine tourism activities. Have fun! 🙂
The harvest season at Quinta da Roêda
The picking of the grapes is done by “rogas”, which are teams of men and women who move to a vineyard for about 20 days just for the harvest season.
The bunches of grapes are cut one by one, and then placed in boxes that take around 20kg, and that men carry on their back (women usually do it in pairs) to a truck.
When the truck is filled with boxes, it takes them to an automatic belt, where the grapes are hand picked to remove damaged grapes, leaves, and other elements that should not be included in the production of wine.
Then, in the case of Port wine, comes the feet stamping of the grapes. On the first night, right after the grapes were picked, they make the so-called “Grape cut” – in which for about 2h (or more, as it can vary from vineyard to vineyard), workers, embracing each other in rows, march methodically to the rhythm marked by a more experienced worker: “One / Two / One / Two / Left / Right / Left / Right”… it is a job that requires attention to ensure that all the grapes are crushed, to separate the pulp from the skin of the grape.
On average, Port wine is fermented during 3 days, so that it keeps a large proportion of the natural sugar of the grapes. Therefore, after the “Grape cut”, on the second day half a dozen workers who, from time to time, go to the mills to freely walk, in order to mix the skins of the grapes with the liquid, as they bring, among other things, color and canines to the wine.
On the third day, fermentation will be so advanced that workers will no longer enter the mills. Instead, they use a wood tool which they call “monkeys” to continue to mix the skins of the grapes with the liquid.Curious enough? I suggest you visit Quinta da Roêda, where all these pictures were taken, which has a very spacious visitors’ center and where you’ll be very well received! 🙂