Monday, August 15, 2011

August 14, 2011 - What a Week!

I can see the possibility of things getting complicated here, so here is a brief introduction.   The man in the yellow shirt is Eduardo Narro.

Two years ago, Eduardo, owner of Jardin Botanico, approached us with the idea of forming a cooperative.  He would supply all the labor we needed at harvest and we would crush and press his grapes.  Stanley would be available for technical support; I would be available for moral support; Eduardo would provide humor and a centuries old connection through his family to the wine industry. 

Last year, he planted his grapes.  The plants did well and set a good crop this spring.  Two weeks ago, I wrote in this blog that the birds had eaten all of Antonio's grapes.  This was really a mis-speak on my part. The grapes belong to Eduardo.  However, we only see him once or twice a year when he visits Parras from his home in Mexico City.  Antonio, his foreman, is the man who takes responsibility for the grapes and we see him several times a week.  You can see how this confusion came about.  

On Monday Eduardo and a large contingent of family arrived - just in time for our harvest.  First, there was a lesson in measuring the sugar content of grapes - Brix.  Then group pictures and finally . . . 
 time for a little fun and some serious planning!

 On Tuesday morning, twelve people showed up to pick grapes.  We only had nine cutters so some of them had to share.  No labor shortage here.  (Note to self:  Buy more cutters for next year!)  It was such a beautiful day!  Partly cloudy - just enough to keep the sun at bay - cool temperature, and bone dry. Perfect weather for a grape harvest.
This is going to be the best wine ever!  The grapes were picked with so much laughter and so many smiles . . . it's got to be good.

At one point, Narro thought discipline was a little too lenient, but with a bit of flogging, he had the work force back in order. 
They even smiled all the way through the clean-up.

That night we had a huge rain . . . over 4 inches in less than an hour.  The water poured over our patio and was only about an inch from the bottom of our front door when it finally started receding.  The flood waters wiped out Stanley's berm AGAIN!  Four times he has built that berm, and four times it's been washed away.  We've got to have a better plan!

We were so grateful to have almost all our grapes in the fermenters when this happened.  Only a few had been left to ripen a bit more.  Fortunately, those few grapes we left were not damaged, but the next morning, the ground was littered with shredded leaves.

On Wednesday morning, we went to town to watch the parade.
 First, Baco and the Festival Queen . . .
Then, the charros . . . 
Pretty girls on horseback - always a crowd pleaser . . .

And finally, the matachines, indigenous dancers - a hallmark of Parras pride.  This year, for the first time in many years, our local association of grape growers sponsored a contest with enough prize money to make it worth while.  Wednesday's parade was just a warm-up.

After the parade, we came home to clean up the mess from the rain the night before.  The mud was so thick and so sticky, we found the hoe was the best cleaning devise.  When most of the mud was scraped off, it still took gallons of water and hours of sweeping to get the floor clean!  Yuck!

On Thursday morning, I woke up determined to design a label for our wine.  We had decided on the name long ago - Hecho a Mano (Made by Hand).  Our ideas for a design were very elaborate and would require the assistance of a professional designer.  Well, I decided that something simpler was far better than nothing at all. 

Ferdi and Lucy are always great hosts and Thursday's picnic was no exception.  As always, the guests were interesting, the food, delicious.

Pre-lunch entertainment was a visit to the horses at the south end of the ranch.  Big-eyed baby horses are almost as irrestable to young women as puppies. 
 Two lambs!
 Some of my favorite people.
And Lucy, a woman who knows what's good!
Friday was fairly low key until that evening.  We went downtown for the first part of the matachines dancing contest.  What fun!  Taking pictures at night isn't that easy, but  neon colored feathers glowing in the light of a huge fire creates a feel very different than the bright sunlight of mid-day.  
It was impossible not to get into the spirit of the pounding drums!
Saturday was our first vendimia fiesta.  That's the topic of the next posting.  It was very exciting!
On Sunday morning, despite slight hangovers, we were in the vineyard bright and early.  We picked all the remaining grapes.  As of noon August 14th, the 2011 harvest was complete.  An hour later, the crusher/destemmer had been washed and put in winter storage.  Read all about the harvest at
In other news . . . from the insect world . . .

From the bird world . . .

From the garden . . . the very last of the summer roses. 

And, from the Heavens . . . another beautiful sunset.
My friend Lucy sent me a message on her way back to her home in Torreon.  "Fue demasiado fiesta."  Yeah!  Too much fiesta, but it only happens once a year. 
I'll have the posting of the vendimia celebration published as soon as possible. 

Have a great week!