When we first moved to Galicia, one captain plied his trade on the river. At the last count, six boats offered trips through the spectacular Canyon of the river Sil. One of the best, and our favourite, is
operated by a young couple Alex and his partner Keka. They own a small activity centre called Turismo en la Ribeira Sacra.
Their vessel is a small pontoon boat accommodating ten guests. It’s a far more personal and intimate service than the larger vessels working the river. Alex’s knowledge of the canyon, and his willingness to relay it in English, gives him an edge over his rivals. A taste of the local wine, as you drift past the riverside vineyards, doesn’t harm either.
‘Don’t forget the wine,’ I called to Melanie as we left the house.
On our last trip down the river I’d promised Alex that I would bring a bottle of my own wine for him to taste. Before establishing his tourist business he used to work at the wine museum in Monforte de Lemos and has an extensive knowledge of the local wines.
The river canyon was formed by an earthquake, millions of years ago. With a little imagination, I could almost feel the earth fracturing as we floated along. The river is 300 metres above sea level with some of the surrounding peaks rising to over 1,300 metres. This creates a micro-climate within the canyon; sheltered from the harsh extremes of the Galician weather.
‘One vineyard in Castile and La Mancha, with one tractor and six workers, can produce as much wine as 3000 families in the Ribeira Sacra,’ states Alex.
As we drifted quietly along the river, Alex’s narrative provided an informative and interesting accompaniment.
‘Would you like to sample the wine?’ he asked.
‘Today Alex, you can sample my wine,’ I replied.
‘You have oaked the wine?’ he asked.
Crickey! I thought to myself. He hadn’t taken a sip but knew from its subtle aroma that I’d oaked it.
‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘I use oak chips from France.’
He raised the cup to his lips; I held my breath. A short pause followed while he savoured the flavours on his palate.
‘Excellent wine,’ he said, ‘as good as any of the bodegas in the area,’ he added.
Relief cleared the lump in my throat and I took a gulp of cool air.
I managed to contain my elation on the return journey home; even the arduous climb back to the car floated away on a wave of smug self-satisfaction.
Enjoy your own relaxing boat trip along the river Sil in this short video.
Vine Watch- week 11
All the vines are now in full bloom or have already flowered. Everyday the foliage grows at an alarming rate. The excellent weather of the past week has seen to that. Nipping off the side shoots and keeping the foliage under control is a daily task. As the sun begins to set, I stroll around the vineyard nipping here and tucking there. It’s very relaxing: some people fish; I nip and tuck.
Craig and Melanie own and operate a luxury farmhouse rental property called Campo Verde. To find out more about a stay at Campo Verde and Galicia in general, visit their website getaway-galicia
Craig’s book, Journey To A Dream, is available exclusively from Amazon, to purchase your copy click here for your national Amazon store.
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