The “piqueta” of the harvest in Penalva do Castelo
The picket is a moment of pause, in the middle of the morning, between the beginning of the work and the “dinner”, where you eat a “snack”, you socialize and, obviously, the word gets wet with the good wine of the Dão. It was a tradition to have a picket for olive picking and for harvesting cereals, but the most important and most joyful was always the harvest. The most famous snacks were the fried sardines accompanied by a good piece of bread, made the day before in a wood oven. However, the sardines weren’t fried anyway! First, the oil was prepared, in a large frying pan, with bay leaves and garlic cloves; it was only after the garlic was lightly browned that the sardines, previously scaled and wrapped in corn flour, were placed to make them crispy.
It was also common to have flaked cod, rojões fried in lard, roasted chorizo and black pudding, olives, Serra da Estrela cheese, all accompanied by homemade cornbread and wheat bread. Of course, there were always two demijohns, one for white and one for red. Anyone who wanted to, could sieve or blend the wine with water, but there was no piquette, as it is only ready for November, after the wine has been made. Today, a concession is already being made to juices, soft drinks and, guess what, to coca-cola, as the signs of the times cannot be ignored. However, it is grateful to recognize that the favorite drink of the vast majority continues to be Dão wine. Before the pickers went back to work, they still had time to sweeten the beak with a donut, coated in sugar and cinnamon.
The tradition was only practiced by small and medium-sized winegrowers, who took turns in the harvest of everyone, being the host’s way of thanking the neighbors for their help in the harvest. Unfortunately, there are almost no pickets. Adega de Penalva, some time ago, recreated the picket to show some customers and the youngest of the land how happy the harvest was. I hope the example bears fruit and next year there will be more wineries to recover their harvest picket. The region thanks you, because without memories the Dão wine has less charm.