The Douro is a magnificent yet severe region: surrounded by mountains and scoured by deep valleys, it suffers the vagaries of a harsh and unforgiving climate. Its winegrowing area is one of the steepest in the world. Until the very late 20th century the region was only accessible by narrow, precipitous roads with a reputation for being particularly dangerous; for many years, Port wines could only be sent to the coast by river.
Today, new roads built with EU funding have relegated the isolation of this period to a distant memory. But the Douro nonetheless remains a relatively under-populated region, and the decades spent cut off from the rest of the world have left Quinta do Noval with a highly visible legacy: even today, life at the Quinta reflects an age when self-sufficiency was a matter of survival.
Traditional Quintas are agricultural complexes which grow not only the vines that produce the celebrated Port wines, but also everything (or almost) required for the survival of those who work there to make it!
The Quinta’s kitchens are supplied each day with armfuls of fresh (and organic) vegetables harvested from the estate’s many vegetable plots. Fruit trees yield copious quantities of cherries, oranges, pears and peaches which are used to make tarts and jams. The Quinta also produces its own almonds, served as an aperitif to special visitors, as well as a very fine olive oil of which most is used on the premises, although a small quantity is sold.
Pork, one of the staples of traditional foods in the Douro, comes from free-range pigs reared on Quinta land and fed with locally grown figs.
The Quinta might not be 100% self-sufficient, but it produces a significant proportion of its own requirements. After the first new moon of each year the whole team gathers with friends and guests to enjoy a traditional annual pig roast: it’s their way of celebrating the Quinta do Noval legacy together!