Well it started raining by about 10 pm ish, went to bed and all we could hear was great big fat plops of rain. As we were parked underneath the bridge more water was collecting from there and falling onto us. Tintin poked his head through the hatch, and thought we’d be better off further away. We got up, opened blinds ready to reverse out of the range of the bridge - and then saw a car parked, which couldn’t be seen from the hatch. Back to bed, until we heard it drive off, then we reversed - had protection from the big tanker behind. Rain sounded just like rain instead of golf balls. Over the course of the next few hours the wind picked up. We were rocked around, not in a nice way - didn’t know what was happening outside! My mind imagined us being swept away by all the water coming down the steep hills above us, and washing us into the Douro! My own Titanic moment - not good! This morning Tintin read on the BBC website that it was the worst storm to hit Portugal since 1842!
Woke a bit bleary eyed at 8am, as we had to decide whether to get the bikes out and ride up for the wine tasting. Decided that it was just rain, no longer a storm, and that we ought to just get on with it. Put all our waterproofs on, but really wasn’t heavy rain by then.
The lovely dog Aqua was there. She doesn’t belong to them, but they obviously care for her and probably feed her, she was even allowed down into the cellars.
Carlos was our tour guide. He was speaking English, but my brain had to play catch up with what he was saying sometimes due to his different pronunciation of certain words! There were a couple of Americans, two ladies from Taiwan, and a few other nationalities who were there because it was the only tour at that time. Due to the storm overnight the venue for the wedding had no power from 1am to 5am, but the guests were still trying to party!
Quinta da Pacheca is run as a 15 room hotel, and they provide the venue for weddings, special lunches, as well as wine tasting. They produce about 700,000 bottles per year, which makes them average sized. Sandeman’s next door produce 9,000,000 per year!
All the vines are harvested by hand. In fact, they only had one more lot of grapes to process tomorrow (the main picture today). You can pay to help them harvest! You get repaid in lots of food and drink! Job for next year! People get in rows of about 10/12 put arms around each other’s shoulders, and you stamp the grapes with your clean feet. Takes about 30 minutes to go one way, how many hours they’re trodden for, depends on what is being made. When you bite into a pip/seed of a grape, it’s quite acidic - therefore, by using feet only you don’t release the acidity.
Downstairs in the cellar was a wonderful aroma! The small barrels are used to produce the tawny port, there is more contact with the oak, and more evaporation - so makes it stronger. The larger barrels are used for the ruby port. They have about 55 hectares of vines.
We tasted two wines, and two ports. A 2017 rose (€19.50) and a 2015 red (€29.00) - just one single grape Tinta Roriz - a Tempranillo. The rose did seem quite acidic at first, but left a lovely taste. The red was great. Tintin became all Jilly Gooldin - talking about the flavours of cherries and black currants - but he was right! Fairly high alcohol content!
In the picture above, the cork is actually a seat! No ‘cork’ trees grow in this region. Also, once the vines are established, they are never watered. The temperature gets to 30 to 40 during the day, drops to about 10 overnight which causes the humidity to enable the vines to grow.
Tried the 30 year old Tawny port (€65), viscous and full of flavour. When you see 20, or 30 year old on the label - it means at least that age, they blend a larger proportion of old with the younger. Last was a 2012 Vintage port (€55). The downside of this, would only be any good for about 3 days after opening. Hence why port seems to be opened at large family or special occasions, when you know the bottle will be finished the same night. They also recommended serving about 16°, not room temperature like we’ve done in the past. By this stage I was feeling a little dizzy! Alcohol before lunch! We went back to the shop and bought a bottle of the white port we tried yesterday. We should have been charged €9 each for the tour, but weren’t charged. Thought maybe if you purchased something the tour cost would be refunded, but they lose out on couples like us only buying one bottle!
Managed to ride back - and didn’t get wet! Nothing special this afternoon, obviously can’t drive! Had lunch, went for a walk around the town. Really random which shops open on a Sunday - pharmacies are open, a shoe shop, but not clothes shops! Bought a couple of cakes to try, asked if they had anything regional, they said no! Saw a steam train, also saw the Taiwanese ladies, who were going on the train - think they had a packed itinerary planned! Happened upon the lovely wall tiles, and also saw a few pick up trucks - looks like all the gypsies have now either been towed away, or driven away.
We’re due for rain again tomorrow, but hopefully that’s all - no storm!
Mum and Norma - wish you safe travels tomorrow - and look forward to hearing all about it in due course!