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Quinta Vale D. Maria

Quinta Vale D. Maria

No visit to the Douro Valley can be complete without a visit to a winery for this is the way to understanding the landscape and heritage of the region.   As part of our stay at the Aquapura we arranged to go wine tasting at two quintas at the heart of the revolution in Douro table wines, Quinta Vale D. Maria and state of the art Quinta de Napoles.

Quinta Vale D. Maria is Cristiano and Joana van Zeller’s place in the Rio Torte Valley. Cristiano, by all accounts a larger than life character, is one of the Douro Boys responsible for creating and bringing to the world’s attention the new Douro table wines. In 1996 he brought the somewhat delapidated quinta that had been in Joana’s family for many years, seeing in the rich variety of old vines the potential to make great wines.

Viticulturist Mariana Brito and winemaker Joana Pinhao talk about wine production

It’s one of the more precipitously perched wineries, reached by a by a dirt track with the sort of bend you don’t get round in one go.  We overshoot the winery and are rescued on the way back down by viticulturist Mariana Brito.  Standing overlooking the vineyards, some planted by Joana’s grandfather, Mariana tells us a bit about the small winery and we meet winemaker Joana Pinhao.  Yes, women are very much to the fore at Quinta Vale D. Maria, later after our tour Joana Van Zeller hosts a delicious  lunch for ourselves and a party of sommeliers on the terrace of the house higher up the hill – Cristiano as the salesman is somewhere in transit between Brasil and the far east. What strikes us immediately is the focus and dedication of these ladies, they’re eloquent and bright and soon have us totally absorbed in the journey of wine production …we turn on the recorder: here they are talking about wine making at Quinta Vale D. Maria

Lunch at  Quinta Vale D. Maria

Lunch on the terrace at Quinta Vale D. Maria

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