Harvest is an intense time in every winery. Bodegas Ismael Arroyo ValSotillo is situated in Ribera del Duero where harvest takes place usually in the first two weeks of October.
Harvest is the end of a long year working in the vineyards. September is the most important month because it is when grapes become ripe.
We start at the end of August selecting bunches to limit their number, because lower yields generally result in riper grapes with more concentrated flavours.
In September we check the color, level of sugar of the grapes in the vines, seeds… This analysis helps us to make a decision about when to start picking the grapes.
The grapes are hand-harvested. We sort bunches in the vines. When they arrive to the winery in cases they go to a hopper and a de-stemmer which separates the berries from the stems. These are ejected and berries are pumped directly to the stainless steel tanks.
Alcoholic fermentation starts in 2 or 3 days in the tanks. We never add commercial yeasts. We start fermentation with the natural yeasts in the skin of the grapes. During 10 days the sugar changes in alcohol. We pump the juice several times to keep wet the cap of skins that usually floates on the top of the tanks. This is very important to take the flavours, colour and tanins from the skins.
This is a very attractive time for winelovers, which increase the visits to our winery. We are members of Ruta del Vino Ribera del Duero, so in harvest time we offer our visitors (adults and children) to taste the grapes and the grape juice.
At the end of November vine leaves dry and fall so we can start to prune their branches. Then everything starts one more time in the vineyards.