Grape Harvest in Requena

When it’s time for the grape harvest in Requena, I always hear somebody saying that they enjoy harvesting. Well, this isn’t the case for yours truly. I don’t hate it, but it isn’t a passion. Maybe because it’s a hard work and you know you will end up with with a pain in your low back (in Spain we say “dolor de riñones” or a pain in your kidneys). If you aren’t careful, you could even end up with a wound in your hand, which, for a guitarist, is not advisable at all.

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A tractor on the job

If you don’t have to harvest, though, this season is a really nice time in the region. In Utiel-Requena there is a regional grape variety called Bobal. It produces a fruity, acidic wine that is served in restaurants all over Requena. During harvest time, in parts of the city and throughout the surrounding areas, there are crews harvesting, tractors full of grapes, and the smell of this wonderful fruit filling the air.

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Bobal grapes

When I was a child, several families had vineyards and it was very common to help your family with the grape harvest. In addition, this seasonal job was always a way for students and young people to make some spending money. They might even delay going back to school to make a little extra. This was the way I bought my first electric guitar.

A few days before the harvest season, you would see out-of-towners who were looking for a crew where they could help with the work. Some people from Spain even went to the south of France where the pay was better.

Some years ago, manual labor for the grape harvest became less common, probably due to the increased use of grape picking machines. It’s good news for back health or maybe bad news if you are looking for a job. I guess its depends on your current situation…

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Grape picking machine

My dad has an small vineyard (or so I thought; more on this later). The vineyard was shared with a lifelong friend who lives in France. The field was small enough that it only took a Saturday morning to harvest and we usually got together in the first part of October to collect the grapes.

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My dad’s former vineyard

A few weeks ago, I told Jessica that it might be interesting to talk about the grape harvest in our next post because I had to go to work as a grape picker in my dad’s vineyard. I was also interested to know more about this kind of harvest in Missoula.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t help with the grape harvest last year due to some lumbar pain, and I never heard the news that it was probably the last year of harvesting since the vineyard would be sold.

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A few days ago, I asked my father, “When are we doing the grape harvest?”

He said, “We don’t have the vineyard anymore, you didn’t know?”

I couldn’t believe it! Just when I was finally eager to harvest to write a post about it! (Just kidding, I like helping my dad!)

I just hope that I haven’t forced Jessica into a hard day of grape picking; next time I’ll make sure to propose something more recreational.

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