Our History
Our History
Quinta do Vale Dona Maria
Quinta Vale D. Maria

At the end of 1993, when leaving Quinta do Noval, it was my ambition to contribute to the development of independent producers in the Douro, thus not only contributing to the establishment of a new and strong wave of innovation in the region, but also complementing, and at the same time diminishing, the Region's dependence on one single type of wine: Port.

The richness of the Douro Region and its promotion can be developed into new fields using the different characteristics that make it unique in the world - its geography, soil and microclimate; the numerous different high quality native grape varieties; the different style of wines those grapes can produce from all styles of Port and other fortified wines (Muscatels) to white and red still wines; all the different properties (Quintas) and their ancient history all serve to accentuate and enhance the uniqueness of the region.

Fall colours
Fall colours at
Vale D. Maria

Following these guidelines, I started to develop different wines and Ports produced exclusively from grapes grown in different Quintas.

It was very natural to start looking at having my own vineyards. Quinta Vale D. Maria was acquired in 1996.

This very old Quinta, then reduced to a 19 hectare property planted with 10 hectares of over 50 year old vineyards, situated on the Rio Torto valley, with a south / south-east facing, in the heart of the Douro Demarcated Region, belonged to Joana's (my wife) family.

Horse plowing
Traditional horse plowing at Vale D. Maria

The move to restore this Quinta was a natural one. A tremendous job of reconstruction was needed, from recovering the old vines to rebuilding every single building in the property, but there was a fantastic potential for quality with the old vineyards. Planted with grape varieties that cover a broad spectrum of the Douro traditional varieties - Tinta Amarela, Rufete, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Francesa, Touriga Nacional, Sousão, and many others - there was a seemingly real potential to provide a unique and outstanding quality base for both Ports and Douro Red Wines.

Control over production began on the 1st of September 1996 and initially all we could do was analyze exactly what kind of wines Quinta Vale D. Maria could produce.

Old vats
Old Port wine vats

New vineyards have been added, either by purchasing or by long-term leases of neighboring properties. On this date Quinta Vale D. Maria has a total of 31 hectares of vineyards: 16 hectares of fully owned very old vineyards (between 60 and 80 years old), 10 more hectares of 25 year and 80 year old vineyards under a long lease and a new planting of 5 hectares, 3,5 finished in 2004 and 1,5 in 2007.

We are now reinforcing our knowledge and developing the quality of our vineyards and winemaking techniques. The accumulated knowledge of traditional Port making (foot treading in the lagares) combined with the most modern vinification techniques in stainless steel tanks has made a notable difference.

New vinification center
New vinification center

The new vinification center was built to allow our wines to reflect all their potential: there are 4 granite stone lagares with temperature control, 4 temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for manual remontage work and robotic treading. A new vertical basket press completes the new equipment. All these tanks and lagares were designed to hold a maximum of 5.000 kgs of grapes (7.500 kgs for 2 of the stainless steel tanks), the average production of one hectare of vines.

Quinta Vale D. Maria, July 2012

Cristiano van Zeller

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Copyright © 2012
Lemos & van Zeller, Lda.