2014 has been a good year for the different Hijos de Rivera harvests. All have ended with excellent results despite having numerous difficulties on the way. Although this year was a low yield year for apples, , Custom Drinks collected 900,000 kilos. The intense rainfall in September and October didn’t stop Ponte da Boga from closing the grape harvest with almost 240,000 kilos of grapes. The facilities of the CIAM, where the different varieties of hops are still being tested, over 2,000 kilos have been collected.
Since the last week of August and for 12 days, three experimental plots of hops were harvested at the CIAM. After, the flowers were packed as pellets ensuring their proper conservation until used for beer production.
Among the nine existing varieties, the production of the variety Nugget was the highest in this harvest, reaching a yield of 1.11 kg. of dry flower per plant, i.e. 11% higher than the usual average for this variety. Magnum and Merkur are the other bitter varieties that are being tested but with significantly lower yield.
However, regarding richness of alpha acids wealth in the Magnum variety, it has achieved the highest value among all and has also reached its maximum value in its five harvests, with 15.4%.
With regard to the productivity of aromatic varieties, the Cascade, although it is its first harvest, has stood out with a yield of nearly 0.7 Kg. of dry flower per plant; although the Czech variety Sladek is the winner with 0.86 Kg. of dry flower per plant. Perle is another variety that is being tested but it does not agronomically adapt itself to Galician weather conditions.
Regarding richness, the variety Cascade obtained 8.4% alpha acids, a value which is above its average.
The result of natural fibre climbing systems, instead of plastic ones, to reuse as compost has been very positive, perfectly supporting the weight of plants throughout their development.
As challenges for next year, we will start a study to utilise wood produced in Galicia for the structure required by hop harvesting (posts 6 m. high from the ground) with different treatments to preserve them outdoors. We will also change the location of one of the plots in order to obtain better productivity.
Maeloc ciders ended the apple harvest after three weeks of intense work. This year the campaign was brought forward due to weather conditions last summer.
The Custom Drinks factory received nearly 900,000 kg. of cider apple at its facilities in Chantada (Lugo), an amount that far exceeds what can be expected in a year of low yield for apples thus, the campaign is described as excellent by the company, both for the quantity and quality of the product.
After years of strong commitment to organic farming, 70% of cider apple during this campaign has been certified by the Consejo Regulador de Agricultura Ecologica de Galicia (Galician Regulatory Council of Ecological Agriculture), compared to 50% last year. This significant increase reflects the commitment of the company to promote organic farming and to use organic apple for the elaboration of its ciders, a boost that farmers in the area have welcomed by adapting their crops to this system.
The cider apples collected at the Custom Drinks facilities come from both cooperatives and small indigenous farmers and even individuals from the area that represent a significant percentage of obtained apples, 22% of the total.
Apples of Raxao, Príncipe, Pero, Verdeñá and Rabiosa varieties, with which the company will produce its wide range of ciders, were collected. With the 900,000 Kg. of apple that we have obtained, we could produce one million litres of Galician Maeloc Cider. The harvest takes place in various areas of our community especially in the area of Chantada, where this crop has a long tradition.
On 13th October, Ponte da Boga closed a new harvest after a hard month of work which was characterized by climatic difficulties. The campaign ended with nearly 340,000 kilos of harvested grape, despite continuous rain throughout the plant growing phase and especially during the final phase of maturation and collection. This year, it rained over 2,300 litres per square metre in the Ribeira Sacra – the average being around 700 litres- a problem that causes grape deterioration. It also complicates the perfect maturation of the grapes, which require dry and sunny weather to produce the proper concentration of sugar and phenolic compounds in order to produce fragrant and balanced wines.
This major handicap has meant that the quality of the plots as well as dedication in growing and processing the harvest have been more important than ever to achieve good results. The main winegrowing criterion at Ponte da Boga is to obtain the highest quality grapes, using the fewest treatments possible, using those active substances which respect auxiliary fauna and are less harmful to the environment.
The 288,000 kilos of red grape and nearly 50,000 kilos of white grape harvested have been produced by local producers and by the farms Ponte da Boga, Alais and San Vitorio who have generated over 92,000 kilos of grape this year, nearly 30% of the total and double 2013. The aim of Ponte da Boga is to keep increasing its own production up to 40% in the next two years, when new planting plots achieve their optimum production levels.
With regard to varieties, Albariño, Godello, Mencía, Merenzao, Brancellao and Sousón grapes were harvested. Nearly 280,000 bottles of the different wines commercialized by Ponte da Boga (Godello, Albariño, Mencía, Expresión, Bancales Olvidados, Capricho de Merenzao and Porto de Lobos) will be produced with them.
The increase of self-production together with continuous improvements in logistic and winemaking processes help us to consolidate the path towards the excellence of Ponte da Boga wines, even in difficult harvests such as the current one.