Isabella Maria Mayson comes into the world at 8.30am. The cup of milky NHS tea that I am served in recovery ward is the best I have ever tasted, such is my sense of euphoria following the birth of our daughter, a ‘Yorkshire lass’ to coin a local phrase. By the end of the day, with looking after two boys aged 4 and 2 at home, I am too tired to celebrate with Champagne so the wonderful cup of tea earlier in the day is as good as it gets (and I normally loathe milk in my tea!)
My Vineyard Blog September 2008
Trouble at the adega. Our estagiário stayed for just a day. He agreed with Rui Reguinga that he was not suited to work in the winery and left. This leaves us understaffed (thank goodness it is a small harvest) and, sitting back in England waiting for the baby to arrive, there is nothing that I can do. Rui, Jose Luís and Luís Garcia are working from dawn until midnight
Vintage is now underway and, by all accounts, conditions are perfect. I say ‘by all accounts’ because, for the first time in 20 years I am missing out on vintage altogether. Our third child is due in six days time so I am swapping the Serra de São Mamede for the maternity ward of the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield. But at Quinta do Centro the crop is small but well formed although we have lost some Trincadeira grapes from the edge of the quinta to oidium. (One of my neighbours, probably a member of the near bankrupt co-operative, did not bother to treat his vines this year).
Our parish is in festa. It is encouraging to see the main street in Reguengo (increasingly suburbanized due to its proximity to Portalegre) decked out for the traditional festival of Nossa Sra de Remedios and the village patron saint of São Gregório. There is a token religious element: (a solemn mass at 17.00 on Sunday. The main focus of activity is a bar sponsored by Cerveja Sagres by the west door of the church. The main street has been fenced off for the largada de toiros or bull running which is held at 2.30 in the morning (the bulls provided each night by Sr. Luís Vaz Covas).
I wake up to depressingly grey skies and driving drizzle. It looks as though the first of the deep Atlantic depressions is moving in early this year (although in England it appears they never left). A storm is forecast for tonight, which is expected to bring high winds and heavy rain to the north of the country, just as they are beginning to pick in the Douro Superior. I am hoping that we might escape the worst of it.
At this time two years ago we had unseasonal heat with temperatures in the low 40s. This year it is relatively cool (low to mid-20s) and dry. There is no disease in the vineyard apart from in one corner where oidium seems to have spread across the road from my neighbour's untreated vines (no doubt a member of the local co-op who has given up). I meander round the property tasting the grapes. The new Trincadeira vineyard (planted in 2000) has yielded fairly well with compact bunches of small, fairly dark sweet berries.