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Community Douro was nearly extinct in the Algarve. It was right for the region with its full-bodied and complex characteristics and blended well with ‘Alfocheiro’, his second variety. For white wine he opted for the popular ‘Arinto’ and the lesser known “Perrum’ which combined well to give good structure, acidity and complexity. “We had to wait three years before harvesting the crops and only the following year did our first wines go on sale. But it was a milestone for us,” he smiles. Three and a half hectares of the farm are devoted to vines, in addition to small almond, fig and olive plantations. “We can’t compete with the big wine producers. Instead we need to concentrate on high quality wines, using indigenous varieties where possible,” he maintains. He is particularly concerned about the scarcity of water and doesn’t want to be reliant on irrigation. In order to help plants survive, he uses a method which seems bizarre at first but makes perfect sense as he explains: “We have more plants per hectare than normal - 5000 as opposed to 3500 – and the space between rows is only 2 metres. Plants compete for space, developing longer roots, making them more likely to survive when it is dry. The height of the vines is also reduced so less water is needed.”

have to be in touch with the environment to observe and learn how plants and soil interact.” The soil is mulched and covered by hay to avoid exposure to the sun. He plants ‘green manure’ in the rows, including leguminous plants, to provide oxygen and nitrogen and is always experimenting with plants that keep pests at bay. He is keen to combine traditional methods with new technologies. August harvest time - the peak of the wine growing season - is when locals and visitors turn up for the traditional treading of the grapes. It is a real community affair with food and wine laid on for workers in a shaded corner of the courtyard. Besides full time members of staff, there is always a need for additional help. During the year, volunteers on the WWOOF scheme (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) work on the farm in exchange for food and lodging. Guillaume thinks it is an excellent mutual arrangement, as people from different parts of the world also benefit from the exchange of experiences. Continued on Page 6 »

On the southern part of the farm where red vines are planted in the clay rich soil, I notice weeds growing prolifically with hardly any bare soil visible. It becomes clear that this is a topic close to his heart as he launches into an animated exchange. Six years ago he started the process of organic cultivation, without using any artificial pesticides or chemicals. “It is a huge learning curve,” he maintains, “you ,&(&5($0B)$&725<00SGI

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Tomorrow june 2014 edition web  
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