WWOOF Hands On

I won’t be posting much in the coming days. Will be having my hands full helping out at a small, organic vineyard about an hour north Lisbon. This is my first WWOOF-ing gig and boy, have I hit WWOOF jackpot. Chris and Helga from Vinhos Cortem are kind and generous. They have been inspiring in so many ways. Former sound engineer and sound editor, they changed course after discovering that their property (in the village of Cortem) used to be a winery. The following is a quickie report of the first 3 days.

I arrived in time to take part in the last day of the 2011 harvest. It’s the tannat. “The weather has been so good that we left the tannat out for an extra week,” Chris explained. Having said that, Chris and Helga, self-taught winemakers, were glad to have all the grapes in. Nature, in form of unexpected severities, couldn’t do damage once the fruits are in the adega.

The harvest was done in two hours and a bit. The end-of-harvest lunch lasted much longer than that. Helga served a baccalau and potato bake and a coriander and lettuce salad. Chris brought out bottles from the winery.

The pace of work varied. Sometimes, I had time on my hand and could leisurely sweep the yard. On Thursday, it was the prep for a German tasting group arriving the next day. The fun shopping at Caldas da Rainha was followed by a drive to the coast to have our eyes soothed by the sight of Atlantic’s waves. Once back at the winery, Helga got to cooking and I got busy with sweeping the yard, cleaning up the tasting room and guest toilet. I am ok with farm and garden work, but house cleaning isn’t my thing. Somehow, this scrubbing, vaccumming and mopping felt like an adventure. Cooking was going on at full steam though it was racing up to midnight. My last chore for the night was hanging up the laundry under a darkened Portuguese sky on a routound cement floor that used to be the threshing ground for produce.

Friday was a bit more cleaning and lots more cooking and dish washing before the wine tasters arrived. Helga and Chris are keen that I rest over the weekend, but I’m looking forward to more hands on in the garden and winery.

This isn’t my first close encounter with winemakers. The first time was in 2007 at the Lingenfelders in Germany.

Some photos here.

Related posts: WWOOF Hands off.
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About kitfchung

Experienced food and travel journalist based in Warsaw, Poland.
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