Friday, November 4, 2011

Quinta do Vesuvio (Douro, Portugal): Vinification

The terroir and viticulture at Quinta do Vesuvio were detailed in my most recent post.  The activities within the adega will be discussed herein.

As soon as enough for a tractor load has been picked, the grapes are trucked down from the vineyard to the adega.  Grapes are introduced into the winery through a door at the eastern end of the building where they are deposited onto a sorting table-cum-conveyor belt for a second level of selection.  The selected grapes are passed through a destemmer and then a crusher and are then gravity-flowed through a large-diameter hose into one of eight 24-pipe (13,200 liters) granite lagers (open stone tanks).

The objective of port wine fermentation is the rapid extraction of the maximum amount of flavor and color from the skin of the grape prior to attainment of a predetermined brix level.  For Quinta do Vesuvio, it is held that the most effective means of facilitating this goal is through foot-treading of the grapes.  This is a very ancient process which has been supplanted/supplemented by automatic processes in a number of quintas.  Teams of up to 50 people first tread the grapes in a two-hour march called the "cut" and then tread freestyle for an additional two-hours in a music-accompanied session called "liberdade."  Stainless steel radiators submerged in the lagers keep the fermentation temperatures within bounds.

Fermentation is initiated with innoculated must.  The cap is punched down with a wooden device called a macacos in order to keep the juice in contact with the skins.  The entire process of fermentation and maceration continues until a predetermined brix level is attained (about three days) after which fermentation is arrested by the addition of 20% by volume pure grape alcohol.

Quinta do Vesuvio offers a single quinta vintage port to the market .  This limited-production wine is estate-bottled and sold en primeur and will not be produced if conditions fall below certain levels.  The wine that is destined to be estate-bottled is gravity-flowed into large chestnut vats which have been a part of Vesuvio environment since 1827.  All other wine is stored in smaller casks until the next spring when they are shipped down river to the port lodges for storage and assignation.

Quinta do Vesuvio is truly an impressive estate.


  1. Hi, you have a great blog here. I 'd love to learn more on wines from your blog!! I am following you too!

  2. Thanks for the kind words. Just keep checking back. I am sure that I will be adding more "stuff."