Mount Pico on Pico Island, the Azores
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Volcanic viticulture. Viticulture with a volcanic twist
It's grape-harvesting time on Pico, a centuries-old tradition that kicks off in early September. Pico is one of nine islands which make up an autonomous region of Portugal called the Azores archipelago. The islands themselves are peaks of vast volcanic mountains that rise high above the Atlantic Ocean.
Looming in the background of today's photo is Mount Pico, a stratovolcano partly responsible for the island's flourishing wine industry. The mineral-rich volcanic earth and warm climate demand unique methods for growing grapes. Fields of vines run along the ground, resting on top of black basalt rocks the locals call 'biscoitos' (biscuits).
These rock biscuits serve a purpose: During the day, the rocks absorb and give back heat, which in turn helps ripen the grapes. The bull, while picturesque, is merely a bystander enjoying the flowers and the view, and perhaps musing about mysteries of viticulture on a far-flung volcanic island.