Quinta do Tua

View of Quinta do Tua, from across the Tua River where it enters the Douro

Just upriver from Graham’s famous Quinta dos Malvedos is the Quinta do Tua, another wonderful vineyard with a beautiful house, a winery and quite a bit of history.

Vineyards and Winery

The vineyards at Tua begin above the house in spectacular old walled vineyards on a west facing bluff, then wrap around the hill and modern patamares (narrow soil-banked terraces) extend along the south facing bank of the Douro.  The grapes grown at Quinta do Tua are vinified for Graham’s Ports in the Malvedos winery every harvest.  But we also have a winery at Quinta do Tua which we use for receiving and processing the grapes which we buy in from local farmers.  The nearby valley of  Ribalonga has an excellent microclimate, and the grapes are of a very high quality.

Paulo Macedo is winemaker at Tua during harvest.  If Henry thinks he has paperwork at Malvedos, with all the grapes coming from within our own properties, he should count his blessings he is not at Tua.  Like Henry, Paulo has to track the source (quinta and exact vineyard parcel), weight, variety, general quality and baumé of every delivery.  But additionally, Paulo and an accountant work together to track all the details of the individuals who have sold us their grapes – around 200 this year at Tua – so they can be paid correctly.  There is also all the paperwork for the transfer of the beneficio associated with the farmer’s grapes, which is effectively the authorisation from the IVDP to make a certain quantity of Port from the vineyards where the grapes were picked.

Paulo Macedo, left, winemaker at Tua, watching the grapes being delivered from nearby farmers

The winery opened on 12 September, and received white grapes on specific days as well as red.  Tua works two full shifts, day and night, as the volume of grapes coming in means there is nearly always work to be done overnight with fortifications and moving wines around.  Final deliveries were taken on the 1st October, and now there are just the final fortifications and corrections to be done, and the team hope to go home in a day or two.  After vinifying 1,000,000 kilos of grapes they have earned their rest!

After harvest, Paulo will return to his year round role as viticulturist for Dow’s Quinta do Bomfim and many of the Symington properties in the Rio Torto valley, including Graham’s Quinta das Lages.

The house at Quinta do Tua

The House at Quinta do Tua

This quinta is one that was built by Dona Antónia Ferreira, and the date over the door is 1831.  The wonderful house was built to serve as her base of operations while developing properties further upriver like the legendary Quinta do Vesuvio, now also a Symington brand and quinta.  She generously made the house available to other travellers in the Douro and at one point the quinta was known as Quinta dos Inglezes (The Englishmen’s Quinta) for that reason.

The house continues to render hospitality for wayfarers:  throughout the harvest the Graham’s blogger lives there, as do Paulo Macedo and the accountant.  Lisa from the Malvedos winery team was here for ten days, and Marta and Monica, the health and safety team from our Gaia offices, stayed for a few nights between inspections at all of our Douro properties.

Lots of photos, comfortable furnishings, old hats atop the vitrine... very home like
One of the old balseiros in the storage area underneath the living quarters

For much of the 20th century Tua was a Cockburn’s property, and the early to mid 20th century photos on the walls of all the partners and visitors, as well as all the comfortable old furniture, give the house a very homelike feel.  Henry Shotton’s own great grandfather was a partner at Cockburn’s, and his photo is on the wall here.  There is a great deal of continuity in these Douro properties and the families that live and work here, despite the vicissitudes of ownership.

Like many houses in the Douro, this one is built of granite and the upper floor is living quarters whilst the lower level, built into the hill on three sides, was used as storage for the wines over the winter.  The house is marvellously cool even on the hottest days, so conditions are excellent for both inhabitants and wines.  We still use the big wooden balseiros to store some of the Tua wines, and the blogger sometimes finds it hard to fall asleep at night, for the scent of newly made Port wafting up through the floor boards.

7 thoughts on “Quinta do Tua”

  1. There are not enough words, I think, to describe the beauty of Tua House at the crack of dawn.The peace, the quietness of the two rivers, Douro and Tua, the smells who come from the windows and the ever present strong smell of grapes been fermented, and specially the ever present cloud of mist which raises from the Douro, and lingers at half-mountain; these are blessings only a believer can appreciate. Besides Tua House lodges a complete record of the way grapes were looking, and how vintages were done, virtually, during the whole 20th centuary. There we can see, for instance the last dinner one of the directors of the Cockburn’s company had in the house, before setting for England to serve during WWII, and the first dinner he has had after his arrival in 1945, incidently a year in which Cockburn’s made only 63 litres of “Vintage Port”, kept, in one single glass demi-john, at the Gaia lodge till the late 80′s. Incredible also was a seat dinner the company had with the President of the Portuguese Republic in the 80′s, Dr. Mário Soares and his “entourage”, and how it was possible to seat 23 people in the main room, and cook for them, in a kitchen usually not fit to serve more than half a dozen guests.

  2. António Graça is a Person that can tell everybody so many stories about The Douro, and many Quintas….
    Um abraço Graça.

    Augusto

    1. António and Augusto thank you both for you comments – I really enjoyed reading António’s homage to Quinta do Tua, it is a wonderful extension of the blog post. I am looking forward to reading the old Guest Book from Tua this winter to read more of the history and wonderful stories of this quinta.

    2. it was very nice to go once a year, in September, to have a work meeting at Quinta do Tua, to have a nice meal and e to be theres, looking, and seing, TUA!

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