Darwinian Gardeners Bodega Visit
On Saturday 30th September 2017 a group of 30 took a coach to the Hondon Valley to visit the Bodegas Cerdá.
After a brief wander around their well-stocked shop we gathered around Carolina to hear all about the winery. It was founded in 1885 by Carolina’s great grandfather, and now 4 generations later it is the most important Bodega in the Valencian Communidad.
We started on the ground floor where white wine is stored and fermented huge stainless steel vats. Then we went underground to the cellars where we saw the French and American oak barrels which are used for the red wines.
Carolina explained patiently the terminologies; Roble, Cosecha, Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva and also the various grape varieties which they use.
We then went back upstairs to their lovely courtyard where tables for a tapas lunch and wine tasting were laid up, under a giant palm tree. We tasted a white; Chardonnay for the men and a fruity white wine for the women, then a cava – brut for both sexes, then a red wine, Cabernet Sauvignon for the women and Syrah Crianza for the men. The tasting was completed with a shot of Pedro Ximénez, a sweet liquor, which some liked and some didn’t.
We then moved into the shop for more tasting and buying the wines which we liked. A particular bargain was a 3 litre organic red wine box for €8, though sadly we couldn’t taste it.
Our purchases completed we strolled into the village of Hondon de las Nieves where we found a nice café for a little more to eat and drink, before boarding the coach for home.
Gardeners Visit to COATO Co-operative
On May 9th a group of 30 gardeners visited the COATO cooperative in Totana. After dressing up in white coats and fashionable hats we followed Conchi into the almond processing plant. Here the local farmers bring their crop to be turned into powder, slithers or whole almonds.
We then moved into the paprika area, where we learnt that the ñora pimientos are firstly dried by the farmers, either in the sun (rare nowadays) or in giant ovens owned by various cooperatives. COATO then extracts most of the seeds, leaving a few, because they help to extend the shelf life of the paprika. We then had a tasting to demonstrate the difference between Chinese and Murcian paprika.
Then we visited the packing area, where that day, they were packing broccoli. Most of the boxes were destined for the UK, some were organic, some were not.
Lastly we visited the Bio Shop, where most of us found something interesting to buy, and then Conchi presented all of us with a carrier bag full of COATO goodies.
This interesting visit was followed by an excellent lunch at the adjacent restaurant.
Darwinian Gardeners Coach Trip to Ceiza
A large group of Darwinian Gardeners joined the coach for a trip to the Floración in Cieza. We were met in Cieza by Pepe who was our excellent guide for the morning. We drove through miles of orchards of stone fruit, peaches, apricots and plums. Sadly the blossom was almost finished, and the fruit was starting to form. We learnt that the bales of straw smoking between the trees is to protect them from frost, and learnt that there are three other methods of protection; in some fields there were what looked like paint cans, which were in fact little heaters, in other fields the heaters were suspended up above the trees, and tarpaulins are pulled over to keep the heat in, and then there were systems of atomisers to coat the blossoms in water, which when frozen protects them from temperatures of below zero.
We were impressed by all the manual work involved, firstly thinning the emerging fruit, then picking it and later pruning the trees. Workers come from Morocco, South America and, of course, Spain.
At 12:30 we arrived at the Visitor Centre where Pepe gave a small talk about the history of the peach tree, before some of us sat down for lunch. Due to a lack of chairs half of us lunched standing up. An endless supply of grilled sausages, lots of bread, tomato relish and apricot jam made up a typical farmer’s lunch.
Darwinian Gardeners Brewery Visit
The Darwinian Gardeners visited the Bizantina Micro Brewery on Saturday 4th March.
We gathered outside in a chilly wind while Luisa told us all about the brewery. Including the interesting fact that Guinness was discovered by accident when the barley was burnt. The beer master couldn’t bear to throw the barley away and used it anyway – the result was Guinness.
We also learnt that the barley is imported, mostly from Germany and the hops come from the UK. Then in small groups, (it really is a ‘micro’ brewery) we were taken to see the production line.
There are just two people employed here, the owner William, from Columbia and his Spanish assistant Luisa. They brew the beer and then bottle it by hand. It is possible to buy the beer, a pale ale or a lager in el Corte Ingles and drink it various bars in Cartagena. Although it is more expensive than the usual mass produced beers, it is certainly worth giving it a try.
When we finished tasting the lager and the pale ale we drove into the centre to the Bar/Restaurant Los Mineros where we had an excellent lunch.
Darwinian Gardeners first 2017 Outing
On February 4th, a group of 28 of us visited José’s nursery in La Majada in order to buy bedding plants. Almost all of us came away with more plants than we had intended to buy. It was so hard to resist popping yet another colourful plant into one’s box.
Back at the bar Puente in the village Andrew Brown hosted a question and answer session. There were many interesting questions, and I’m sure we all learnt something new.
This was followed by a very good lunch, and lots of lively conversation. The raffle raised over €50 which will go towards the Lions’ “Inoculate against Measles in the Third World” Program