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Quinta Do Vale Meao
Mention the name Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira in Portugal and they will hum with reverence. A source of national pride, “la Ferreirinha” - the nickname given to Antonia by her workers - is the reason why Port wine enjoys the illustrious reputation it has today. The final piece of her Porto puzzle of legendary estates (there were almost 30 in total), Quinta Do Vale Meao (pronounced miaow) is a veritable institution of the Douro.
One of the Duro valley’s greatest family owned estates
At 300-hectacres and 200-kilometres from Porto, Quinta Do Vale Meao was la Ferreirinha last, but most significant project. Planted in 1877, by the late 1880s she was managing all of her estates almost single-handedly. Yet starting Quinta Do Vale Meao was challenging; set so high in the valley the rich patchwork of terroir was prime for Port wine grapes, yet the distance (a 12-day ox-cart ride) was offputting for workers. So what did la Ferreirinha do? Put pressure on the Portuguese government to build the railway up to the Foz Côa, (the village where Quinta Do Vale Meao is located) of course. Simple.

Today the estate is run by brother and sister team Francisco (Xito) and Luisa Olazabal, the sixth generation run the vineyard. The family has been slowly replanting the vines in single blocks since 1971, replacing with the traditional varietals for Porto. The wine is rich and complex, and like some of its sister vineyards, the grapes are still trodden by foot for four hours large stone vats (called lagares). The fermentation, however, is state of the art and takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. Ageing then takes place in Allier French oak barriques. Such diligence and respect for tradition earnt Xito the title of Portugal’s winemaker of the Year in 2011.
The future's bright
It is interesting to see that Xito and Luisa have great plans for the future. Exportation is wide and varied; Quinta Do Vale Meao can be found in Brazil, Canada, Germany, Macau, Switzerland and the USA and Xito and Luisa are actively looking for other countries to import their Port wine. They have also planted a variety of table wine grapes, to see how the fruit will react, although only time will tell on the results, it is doubtful that this new venture will yield any investment opportunities in the near future. However, with a winemaking pedigree such as theirs, it might be wise to watch this space.