At the end of September the clusters gradually reach their optimum ripening point. The harvest starts at the end of September with the authorised foreign varieties and is concentrated around the festival of Our Lady of Pilar (12 October) with the province’s autochthonous varieties. The grapes are picked by hand and transported in plastic crates to the wineries.
The white grapes, the majority ones within the Designation, are destemmed. Before going to the press, many wineries carry out a maceration of the resulting flesh and seeds in an inert atmosphere at a low temperature to extract all the aromas and compounds present in the grape skins.
The fermentation of the must takes place in stainless steel tanks with the temperature controlled at around 15 ⁰C and that usually takes two to three weeks.
By the end of the Autumn the txakoli is ready, but most of the wineries will wait a few more weeks to enable the wine to reach the maximum level of its expression.
This is when the pruning work is done in the vineyard, work which guarantees the proper renewal of the plants, and balanced plant development during the forthcoming season. This is manual work, delicate and tough at the same time owing to the hours spent working at the mercy of the elements during the coldest months of the year.
In the meantime, the production process is completed in the wineries. This is the cleaning phase, the stabilising and filtering that culminates in a clean, bright product that will subsequently be presented at various gatherings for the enjoyment of the lovers of our txakoli.
That is why it is at this time when the largest number of wine-tasting sessions and controls take place to guarantee the quality and authenticity protected by the Designation of Origin.
With the onset of milder weather, the cycle of plant life starts up again and the sap gets going once again in the vineyard, which causes the phenomenon known as “weeping” and which precedes the budding. During the first half of April the first leaves start to appear and at the end of May the inflorescences begin to open. This is a period charged with tension for the producers, because owing to our climate conditions what happens over these weeks is going to affect the final result of the year.
The vineyards receive special care, with regular strimming of the grass that grows on the paths and in the rows of the plantations with the applying of treatments against the endemic fungi of the area.
In line with the “branque” tradition, the branch of bay leaf that identified the farms where the new harvest could be sampled, by now consumers are already enjoying the new txakoli in the warmth of the first rays of spring sunshine.
At this time all the work focuses mostly on the vineyards, where the producers throw themselves into carrying out tasks to ensure that the plants, and the clusters in particular, develop properly.
The main work will involve regular strimming to control the plant cover along the paths of the plantations, or the trimming to reduce and control the development of the vine branches. The plants gain in height and form a kind of green wall full of leaves that will synthesise the sugars destined to accumulate in the clusters.
At the beginning of the summer the grapes will be the size of small pellets and will then form tight, amber, caramel-coloured clusters. Gradually the grape berries will get bigger as they incorporate sugars, and their acidity falls. This process takes place slowly and gradually thanks to the cool summer temperatures in Bizkaia that encourage the proper ripening process.
At the end of the summer, when the harvesting date is being anticipated, some of the leaves around the clusters are removed to help them air properly and to prevent dangerous condensations and the presence of unwanted rotting.