Carlos Gartner, proprietor of Linha 22, led a group to visit Quinta das Peixotas to experience first hand the magic of the grape harvest in the Douro.
Quinta das Peixotas is a small family-owned quinta, just 30 hectares, located 5 km east of Régua. The family purchased the Quinta in 1986 from the Barreto family, the fulfillment of a dream for Dr. Almeida which is now carried on by his wife, Dra. Conceição, and three daughters. Although all have other careers and rely on their caseiro (resident bailiff) to manage the property and António Dinis as winemaker, they are active in promoting the wines internationally, and have weekly meetings via internet to manage the Quinta and the business. Dra. Conçeicão and her daughter Sofia live in Régua and Joana and Maria João come back to the Douro throughout the year as well as for the harvest, Joana from her home in Norway, and Maria João from Brazil.
This was their first time hosting visitors during the harvest – over a dozen, between the Linha 22 visitors and another group from Norway. On arrival, we were given a mid-morning breakfast to strengthen us for the work ahead, whilst Joana introduced the group to the story of the Quinta and its wines. We were then issued t-shirts, buckets and secateurs and led out into the vineyards which cover the hillsides on either side of the winery.
In a very succinct and business like fashion Joana showed us how to cut the grapes, supporting the clusters of Touriga Nacional with one hand whilst cutting the stem with the other. When our own buckets were full, we emptied them into larger tubs, which a couple of vineyard workers hoisted up on their backs in the time-honoured Douro tradition and carried to the trucks, where the grapes were gently spilled into even larger containers. The chatter and laughter of the workers settled down and we worked steadily for several hours before we were told to knock off for lunch. Joana told us later that the caseiro had been very impressed with the productivity of the group, and would welcome us back any time.
Lunch was a traditional meal of Tripas à Moda de Régua, a traditional stew cooked slowly in a three legged iron pot in the fireplace, accompanied by rice, bread and of course wine. Afterwards we had walnuts and a variety of fresh fruit, all produced at the Quinta.
After lunch, winemaker António Dinis presented two of the wines, talking us through the winemaking process and a tasting. First up was the Quinta das Peixotas 2012, a young, fruity but well balanced blend of classic Douro varieties including Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca. The second was the Quinta das Peixotas Reserva, which spends more time both in oak barrique and in bottle before before being released to the market. We were fortunate to taste a 2007 Reserva, which has aged well and presented a more complex but still well structured and balanced flavour profile.
The day finished, as many days during a Douro harvest do, with everyone in the century old stone lagares to tread the grapes. We worked in two lagares, one just filled that day, and another which has been fermenting since Monday and was not yet fully dry – cool weather early in the week had slowed the fermentation of that lagar, but we did our best to warm it up and speed it along with our treading.
Visit Linha 22 to enjoy the wines of Quinta das Peixotas along with your petiscos or meals or purchase bottles to enjoy at home. Keep in touch with us on Facebook and this website to learn of more special trips around the Douro and Minho regions which Carlos will be planning in the months ahead.