Friday, August 24, 2012

La Vendimia 2012 - Wed and Thursday

First, the grape harvest was wonderful.  We crushed over a ton of grapes including 264 pounds of Sangiovese, 205 pounds of Petite Sirah, 814 pounds of Zinfandel, 133 pounds of Sauvignon Blanc, and 763 pounds of Red Blend – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.  You can see all the details on the Making Wine blog.  We had lots of great helpers.  With their help it was fun; without their help, it would have been a real chore. 
For all those who were not here, I can only say, “You missed a great party.” 
It started on Wednesday morning when Eduardo and his daughters Eugenia and Valeria came to pick grapes.  We thought the girls would pick a box or two of grapes and then say they had to go.  Alas, they picked until Stanley told them to stop so there would be some for the out of town guests.  

They all did a little science with Stanley and we wrapped up the morning by labeling the wine bottles for the big vendimia celebration on Saturday.

We were just finishing that little chore when the first of our guests arrived:  David and Donna  from Portland OR and Jo and Louis  from Los Angeles CA.  Off we went to the Hostel Faro in downtown Parras for lunch.  Jim and Rori  and Dennis and Judi, all from Rice WA met us there.

After a quick orientation tour of Perote, introduction to Solo Vino, and a much needed rest, we had dinner at Jardin Botanico with Eduardo and about a dozen others, mostly family.  
Eduardo grilled the most fantastic steaks I had ever seen.  They were T-Bones, sliced about 5 inches thick.  Kosher salt on one side, grilled over medium coals for 25 minutes, turned, grilled on the second side 25 minutes.  Sliced against the grain and served with salad.  Delicious!
The next day, everyone was up bright and early for a full morning of grape picking.  I don't like to play favorites, but Judi was the champion grape picker in the group.  She was a real trooper!
Then off to town for lunch at Casa Vieja, our favorite little hole-in- the -wall restaurant in Parras.  
On to the new coffee shop for a caffeine treat.  Look who else dropped by the coffee shop.
Back to the house for siesta.    

Thursday night opened the feast of San Lorenzo at Casa Madero winery.  First a tour of the winery itself,
including the various museum pieces
and a demonstration of how to crush grapes - BIG TIME!
then an opportunity to visit the church,  
check out the art,
try various snacks from  the street fair, see the Matachines up close before they left to climb the hill behind Casa Madero,  
pose for photos with friends
and get to know new friends from Amsterdam.  Ton and Eva began their  relationship with Eduardo as business acquaintances, but they are now dear friends.  We were delighted to have them join our little band of English speakers.
About 10:30 the bells started ringing and fireworks filled the sky with balls of light.  The Matachines had reached the top of the hill and were on their way down.  Against a black moonless sky, we could see the line of torch bearing Matachines.  Down, down, down they came, dancing all the way.  
As each group arrived at the plaza, a bonfire was lit, giving all of us the opportunity to remember that San Lorenzo was martyred by being burned to death.  Finally, the last dancer came through the gate; the last bonfire was lit.  
 Now, the dancing started in earnest.

The Matachines danced until the last bit of wood was burned; the metal soles of their shoes and the rattles they wore on their ankles and carried in their hands adding to the pounding of the drums and the bells that rang throughout. 

When the fires went out, the bells stopped ringing, and the drums hit a final beat.  All was quiet and very dark.  Out of that dark deep silence came a small swishing.  Suddenly the plaza was alive again with light and noise.  The first of three structures lit up with spinning firecrackers.  At intervals, the pinwheels would stop and we thought it was over.  But  no.  Another pinwheel spun yet another round of firecrackers.  Every pop, bang, explosion, and fizzle brought cheers from the crowd.  At last after a dramatic pause, the angel at the top rocketed off into space.  The crowd was now at “frenzy” state.
No sooner had the first angel brought down the house, than the second structure started spinning its wheels and the show began again. 
Finally with a final flash of color, the show came to an end.  

It was time for dinner!  Served after midnight in the inner courtyard of Casa Madero, the dinner was a red tablecloth, four course affair with several kinds of wine.   My favorite part was the venison tostado entrée.  It was delicious!

When we left most of the guests were still there, but we were exhausted.