The grape harvest in Spain usually starts sometime in August, and continues until October, depending on the region and the year. In most wine tours you are shown the winery, and you would taste some of the wines they make; we decided to offer people the opportunity to participate in grape picking, quite a new experience for many! We found some wineries in the Utiel-Requena wine region interested in giving it a try.

We left Valencia at around 9AM; the Álvarez-Nölting winery is about an hour’s drive from the city. It’s a beautiful old farmhouse, completely renovated, and in the middle of a nature reserve, really spectacular scenery. You could spend a few days there as the rooms upstairs are for rent for short or longer vacations!

The Álvarez-Nölting winery lies in the middle of a nature reserve.

The vineyards are right next to the winery, so that was easy. We took some equipment and crates and started cutting some bunches, easy enough. But grape picking is hard work; in the end it became a photo session than really grape picking: of course, a wine tour has to be fun and relaxing…! So we harvested a few bunches each, and put them in a small crate, big enough for about 15 KGs of grapes.

We then decided to make fresh grape juice, in the vineyard. We put the bunches in a small bucket and took turns in squeezing the grapes; there’s a lot more juice in those small grapes than one would expect!  We poured the juice into some glasses and drank them on the spot: delicious!

Enough work done: just some more photos and we were ready for the wine tasting…

The winery visit was really interesting; we learned how they made their different wines, and were shown all the different machines they use, the press, the bottling machine, etcetera. And we could taste some wines straight from the tanks, then mixing them to make our own blend!

We tasted all the wines the winery made, about eight different ones; this included an older vintage of which only 20 bottles remained… quite special! After the winery tour and the wine tasting we sat down at the old farmhouse’s veranda for some Spanish ham and cheese, an incredibly good ‘tortilla de patatas’ (the traditional Spanish potato omelette) and some more wine… waiting for lunch to be served.

And very soon the paella arrived!

All in all a very relaxing day, very interesting, and with a new experience – and we realise of course that grape picking is fun if you do it for only 10 minutes; as a full time job it is very hard work!