Running Around the Vineyard

I have been having problems with my Achilles tendon for most of the past year which has effectively stopped me from running. Running outdoors is one of my few anti-stress mechanisms and I have felt tethered as a result. Last month my wonderful physiotherapist (David Meech of Bakewell Physiotherapy Clinic told me that I could at last start running again, if only for 25 -30 minutes at a time, twice a week. After all the rain last month we now have crystal clear winter weather with a biting wind blowing off the serra, so I donned my kit and went for a run from the adega. My route took me through the vineyard where we are about half-way through this year’s pruning. We have pre-pruned the Trincadeira 2000 and the Alicante Bouschet which has helped the pruning team who have already completed the Vinha Velha, Touriga Nacional, Syrah, Viognier, Cabernet and Aragonez. Following my instructions they have pruned the Touriga Nacional quite severely to reduce yields on the deeper soils and have nearly completed the same on the Alicante Bouschet which always over-produces. This year hopefully we won’t have to drop a third of the crop to the ground before veraison! After frequent stops and starts inspecting the vineyard I ran out thought the gates and along some of theazinhagas (lanes) that surround the quinta. There is no better way to see what your neighbours are up to than on foot. I was struck by just how many plots of new vineyard have been planted, despite the financial problems that have dogged the local co-operative for the past few years. At the same time I was struck by how many properties have a vende (for sale) sign stuck to their gate. These are mostly small holdings with a ruined house at the centre abandoned by a generation no longer prepared to live a simple rural life. I notice that the local branch of the Remax estate agent is holding a sale of discounted properties this month but the market looks saturated. With the current state of the Portuguese economy in decline there will be some bargains to pick up before long. My final observation before trotting back to theadega was that one of my near neighbours has managed to wangle his own municipal street light just to light up his house and front garden - a good way to save on electricity in these times of financial austerity!