Montalbán, Spain, Sep 3 (EFE).- The mass production of sweet Pedro Ximénez wine in the Montilla-Moriles region began shortly after Manuel del Pino opened his winery in Montalbán, in the southern province of Cordoba, in 1935 and was commissioned by Manuel González Gordón, Marquis of Bonanza.
“Tocayo, you have to make me sweet wine there,” Miguel del Pino, president of Bodegas del Pino, tells EFE at the foot of the “pasera”, where the Pedro Ximénez grapes – the variety that gives its name to the wine – are put out to dry in the sun.
The drying area extends over 15 hectares – equivalent to 21 soccer fields – where 1.5 million kilos of grapes are dried, forming an amalgam of colors ranging from the green of the freshly harvested grapes to the driest, darkest brown, which are placed in baskets to be taken to the winery to be pressed into the sweet wine.
Miguel del Pino believes Pedro Ximénez is “a wine of craftsmanship and risk”. It is artisanal, he insists, “because the grapes have to be picked by hand so that the skin does not break and the sun does not take all the juice” and “if it started to rain (heavily), everything could be spoiled”.
The drying area’s immense multicolored spectacle that is about two kilometers away from Montalbán hosts a kind of plastic raffia that keeps the grapes off the ground, where they will be transformed by the sun.
With a lot of heat and a large amount of sugar, in three or four days “the grapes can be harvested and taken to the winery, and if it rains or it is cloudy, it can last from seven to ten days”.
Before that step, the grapes must be harvested with care, which in this year’s prolonged heat and drought has meant a race “against the clock”, says Manuel Jiménez del Pino, who oversees the harvest.
“In 10 days there will be no grapes in the field, the harvest will be over” which in Montalbán is carried out by three crews of nearly 80 people from around the country. EFE