It's harvest time in the Penedès. It is from August until now everything happens, and it is this all the producers and grape frames have waited for. The grape presses are working all night long and everyone is doing their outmost to get the grapes home as quickly as possible. I myself am totally exhausted after a day with visits to four cava producers, with lots of information and a very high tempo. We started this morning with Segura Viudas which is one of the larger houses. Something special with Segura Viudas is that they ensure that all their grapes are harvested by hand, whether it's their own vineyards or their contracted farmers. On the road, the following days, we meet tractor after tractor with the clearly marked twenty-five kg boxes marked clearly with the name of Segura Viudas. The reason for using the small boxes is to avoid the grapes from being crushed, since the grapes then starts to oxidate, leaving a brown must which does not measure up to the quality standards.
In the thirty-degree heat (even at ten o'clock), we went up along one of the vineyards edges where the harvest of Macabeu were being rounded up. It was not easy to find the harvest workers since they work quickly and swapped their picking place when we arrived. But in the end we found the ten men who was harvesting the grapes, all dressed in blue almost looking like a brigade of Smurfs.
The boxes are loaded onto trucks and driven to the press, where they go through seven different quality controls including measuring the acidity, the future alcoholic strength, and other parameters to detect the unauthorized use pesticides on the grapes during the year.
What is left after pressing is the whole stem, and pips that are either used as natural fertilizer or sent on to the cosmetics industry that extracts the grape seed oil, which apparently contain antioxidants and other utilities.
Then we went to Freixenet, the world's largest producer of sparkling wine with 130 million bottles a year. Freixenet has also been the producer who has been at the forefront of technology development which has helped the other producers in the region.
After Freixenet we went to the smaller house of Vilarnau. They have only one available cava brut in Sweden, which is sad for us because they have a tremendously visionary winemaker named Eva. She is experimenting with new grapes and new wood barrels, which hopefully will lead to exciting products in the future.
Tomorrow we shall return in the morning to see how it actually looks like when the mechanical harvesters which will be exciting.
Apparently the others who work at Vilarnau, sometimes use the track after work, even if all do not engage in the most advanced jumps and tricks.
After a fantastic dinner and review of the photos from the day, I am now so tired after all the impressions that I wonder how I will make room for more information. How nice, informative, exciting and fun it is to visit the producers, it is also incredibly intense and leaves me with a weariness that you just get when you have stuffed your brain full of information that the brain has not really had time to sort through and assimilate. But a few hours of sleep does the trick, and then we will be ready for a new day of cava!