Life from an outsider's perspective…

Grape Harvest Time in Tenerife; small grape farmers suffer a disaster crop!

It's not hard to see which bunches of grapes were salvagedIt's not hard to see which bunches of grapes were salvaged

I just finished helping with today’s “cosecha” way too early…

For those that don’t know, a cosecha is the local name for a grape harvest. The owner of small vineyards in Tenerife usually ask their extended family members to volunteer to harvest (cosechar) all the grapes in a single day. This day normally falls Saturday at the end of September. They’re usually offered some form of small compensation, but on our farm we like to provide a traditional lunch for everyone that participates.

It's not hard to see which bunches of grapes sufferedIt's not hard to see which bunches of grapes suffered

This year there were 21 grape pickers, who collected a total of 68 full crates, for a total harvest of ~1200kg of premium black grapes. For comparison: last year, our farm produced 5000kg of grapes (some 280 crates)!! What caused this year’s disaster crop? Two things happened almost simultaneously:

  1. Some time in mid-June, our vineyard contracted an abnormal sickness, causing many of the grapes to explode before reaching maturity. This was probably the result of an abnormal amount of light rain over this period, over which time the fungal virus spread. The farms that did not bother to spray their crop must now abandon this years harvest.
  2. A severe calima also occurred at the end of July, temperatures skyrocketed to 40°C for 3 consecutive days, and this virtually dessicated the remaining grapes that hadn’t already contracted the fungal virus. I noted that only those grape bunches that were protected by shade seemed to survive.

Insurance companies refuse to insure small farms like ours for such occurences. Neither does the tax office nor the government recognise this year’s unofficial vineyard catastrophy; they never provided any financial aid to small-time growers. Sadly, this isn’t the case for bigger vinyeards (at least five times the size of ours), who are in a position to receive both substantial tax-cuts and other insurance benefits. Even today, many families still depend on their vineyards as a source of income. Unfortunately, even though the majority of grapes in Tenerife are still grown and supplied to wine cellars by small family-run cultivators, they are simply not supported by institutions who provide help to larger vineyards.

One Response to “Grape Harvest Time in Tenerife; small grape farmers suffer a disaster crop!”

  1. As a wine lover and self-proclaimed expert I must say… very intesting story, I’m glad I found my way here.

    And omg I love the layout and design of your blog.

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