From the moment we lift the glass and smell all the nuances of the Albariño grape, we are taken on a journey which reveals the care and attention received during the different stages of the vine‘s life cycle.
In that moment we become aware of the importance of the work carried out throughout the year in the vineyards. Work that involves planning, knowledge, effort and a lot of care, and which results in the harvest of this golden grape.
Today we would like to share with you a passion we have been nurturing for over 30 years – that of seeing our vineyards grow. Would you like to learn more?
January – February: Latency stage
At dawn in Salnés we often find temperatures below 10ºC.
Typically at this time of year our vineyards offer us a wintry image: bare trunks, no shoots or vegetative growth, apparently inert and covered by a blanket of fine mist.
Although it may seem surprising to some that the vines have no leaves, this is not cause for alarm. For vines, this is the only way to survive low temperatures and often unfavourable climatic conditions.
During these winter months, our work mainly revolves around regular pruning in order to guarantee the quality of the fruit.
Since no two vines are the same, we dedicate the necessary time to each one, preparing them in this way for the growth of future shoots and fruits.
March: The vine cries
If before the landscape may have given you a scare, seeing the vine cry will surely have the same effect. But no need to worry – everything is just as it should be.
With the arrival of March and the increase in temperature, the earth heats up and the vine – as if it were something divine – wakes up from its lethargy.
One of the signs of this awakening is the ‘weeping‘ – a visual spectacle where the sap from the interior, dormant during the colder months, begins to flow through the woody vessels of the vine until it rushes out through the shoots that have been cut during pruning.
March – April: Budding stage
If weeping is an indication that the vine is coming out of its dormant state, the appearance of the shoots is proof that a new cycle has arrived.
We are in the middle of March and the sun shines in all its splendour over the Salnés. This amount of light, together with the gradual increase in temperatures – already above 10ºC – favours the appearance of timid and early buds on our vines.
A clear indication that the plant has reactivated its root system is when these buds swell and lengthen, something that happens when the vine begins to absorb water and minerals from the soil again.
With the arrival of these new shoots, it is again time for intense working days in Condes de Albarei. Our vine growers clean the weeds from the vineyards, begin to tie the shoots and select those that will grow with the aim of producing new shoots and clusters.
April: Foliation stage
Spring takes hold in the month of April and the first leaves paint our vineyards a pure green colour.
Do you remember the pruning we carried out a couple of months ago? Well, the shoots that we now see are coming out of the buds that we left intact in the pruning.
We are in one of the most delicate moments of the cycle. The shoots are tender and very sensitive both to sudden changes in temperature – especially the morning frosts typical of this time of year – and to rains.
The Atlantic climate of our area means that generally temperatures at this time of year do not suffer sharp drops. However, rain is typical and that is why we carry out care and maintenance work on the farms.
June: Flowering and fruit setting stage
As if it were something divine, the vine begins to show the first signs of flowering and with it, we begin to get an idea of when we will be able to harvest its fruits.
We are in June, the heat is beginning to make itself felt and the daylight hours have reached their maximum. Our vineyard responds to this by giving us a spectacle worth watching: the flowering.
During about 20 days, tiny white flowers will open, waiting to be pollinated by the wind or a passing insect.
At this moment, the weather is key. Rain or storms could ruin part of the crop by preventing flower embryos from being pollinated.
However, once pollination has been successfully carried out, the grape will begin to develop, leading to the next stage: the setting of the fruits.
In this stage, which will last between 2 and 3 weeks, the flowers of the vine become the fruit, subsequently giving rise to the bunch of grapes.
One summer more, our grapes mature in colour until they reach their final hue, a feast for our eyes.
The veraison is a very important moment since it marks the countdown to the harvest.
During this stage the grapes change colour until they reach maturity, going from a pure green colour to paler yellow tones.
This is also a critical time for the winery as we are able to make the first estimates as to the future production of our harvest.
September – October: Harvest
Salnés see long days full of hard labour.
Our viticulturists, winemakers and technicians collaborate side by side so that everything is ready.
Our winemakers take samples from the vineyard which are analysed to see if the desired levels of sugar, acidity and other components have been reached.
Subsequently, the most hotly-anticipated decision of the year will be made, a decision that will determine the characteristics of the wine once it is made: when to start the grape harvest.
In the vineyards the bunches are picked one by one, by hand, by the grape pickers. Tractors rumble from here to there. And in the winery there are hundreds of boxes full of carefully placed clusters waiting to be moved on to the winemaking process.
These are certainly hectic days, but ones we experience with a special enthusiasm in Condes de Albarei.
November – December: Rest stage
Work in the winery continues to be intense, and in the vineyard too.
With the arrival of autumn, the leaves begin to change their hue, showing more golden and darker colours. To ensure the good health of the vineyard, pruning continues throughout the next few months.
An organic fertiliser is applied to the soil sporadically, as well as phytosanitary treatments in order to ensure a successful dormancy – the period in which the growth, development and physical activity of the vine is temporarily suspended.
As you have seen, the work we carry out in the vineyard forms a complex system in which success is not always guaranteed and uncertainty always lurks around the corner.
However, thanks to the effort and dedication of our viticulturists, technicians and oenologists, we can ensure that Condes de Albarei is available to you every year. Thank you for supporting us and following us on this beautiful journey through a year in wine.