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.
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
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.
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.