This Summer, for the first time, I was given the opportunity to get my hands dirty and take part in a harvest near Porto. This was thanks to my friend Joey Lima (above, middle right), whose father and uncles own and take care of the vinyard.
The place was fairly small, and by the standards of modern industrial-scale facilities, haphazard and modest in its composition, but as charming a place as I could have found to begin my harvesting career.
Once a year, grapes for producing vinho verde are gathered. The work is completed in a day, and 1000 litres of wine is the result. It is not registered with an appellation, but is given to family members or sold to friends.
Very much a family occasion, we got there at around 10.30 and were immediately surrounded by mini-cousins, who all seemed to be girls. I, as a male, was separated from Joey and my lady friend Natalia (above right), who went to help with the cooking, and before I knew it I was up a ladder with a pair of shears.
I am in no way pretending that I did anything near a day's work. I probably filled 2-3 20kg buckets, and was constantly called back down my ladder for another drop of last year's juice.
Nor can I say that I was much use as a roving reporter. I have no idea what type of grapes were picking, nor had the majority of people with whom I was 'working'. I still am not totally sure how they make vinho verde a little bit fizzy, either.
At around 14.00 we were called to lunch. We all hopped onto the back of a truck and sat around an elongated table in the garden of the farmhouse. We were stuffed with great cheese, salad, vegetables and the highlight for me, a cod and potato mash with breadcrumbs.