Harvest time in Cambados – Albariño
Update as of August 1, 2020
The tourist office in Santiago De Compostela recommended that if we had a chance, we should be sure to visit the town of Cambados, “It is the center of wine activity in the Rias Baixas.” We packed our bags and left our Parador in Pontevedra, heading towards Cambados for a day trip before heading south towards Madrid. It turned out to be an excellent recommendation. Our day in Cambados was enjoyable and exciting. However, if you are not a wine lover, the trip might not be that impressive.
Cambados is on the Atlantic Coast, and it was a beautiful ride as we followed the coastline from Pontevedra to Cambados. Everything was green in the area – the hills, the fields, and the vineyards; we were in Green Spain. As we approached the town, we took a couple of side roads and spotted workers harvesting the grapes. Picking grapes in the Rias Baixas is so different from that of the Napa Valley or anywhere in California wine country.
The pace is slow and methodical. In California, the workers literally run with their containers, toss the grapes into a one-ton bin, and then rush back to fill their cartons. Here, the workers have one bin that they fill and then leave it on the ground. The containers are picked up later, placed on palattes, and brought to the winery on small trucks.
In the Rias Baixas, the grape pickers do not have to stoop or couch to pick the grapes which is unique to this area. All the clusters are above them. All the vines are high off the ground. Rias Baixas is a soggy and wet wine country, and the high trellis system protects the grapes from rot.
Martin Codax – Coop Winery
We drove by a winery, Bodega Martin Codax. The crush was at a fever pitch at this winery. Trucks arrived with palettes of grapes that were then positioned on conveyer belts where the bins were dumped and sent to equipment for de-stemming and crushing.
Martín Códax is a cooperative winery, with more than 1,400 small vineyard parcels farmed by 550 families around Cambados. While we watched, several individual growers came to the winery with their harvest. One was a woman who pulled up in a small truck with a palette of grapes. I asked if I could take her picture. She was so proud of the grapes. Her faced filled with joy as she picked up a cluster of grapes to show us. “Aquí, pruébalos, no tienen químicos, son dulces y deliciosos.” (“Here, taste them. They have no chemicals; they are sweet and delicious.”)
Cambados is a wine town, and during harvest the entire village celebrates.
There are many Vinotecas or wine shops, and they are all about Albarino wine. If you visit Santiago De Compostela, consider a side trip for a day or two to this beautiful area that loves their Albariño wine.
Martin Codax Albariño
The Martin Codax Albariño wine is widely available in the U.S. The wines are imported by the Gallo Family. BevMo and Total Wine stores carry the entry level of the Martin Codax Albariño for about $15. You might want to give a glass a try while you read our blog. Thanks!