Portugal is a country with a very rich and diverse terroir, where the wine heritage has been rooted for generations. Between the months of August and October, the
Green hills and valleys come to life with an event that is much more than a simple grape harvest: the grape harvest. This centuries-old tradition celebrates, every year, our people's culture and passion for wine, resulting in unique experiences that mix hard work with moments of joy and fraternization.
From north to south of the country, harvesting is the process of harvesting ripe grapes from vineyards to produce wine. It is a moment of great relevance in the annual cycle of the vineyards, as well as being a tribute to the land, nature and the efforts of our people. This process is carefully planned throughout the year, as the timing of the harvest will directly affect the flavor and quality of the wine.
Our vineyards are known for their diversity and authenticity, with more than 250 indigenous grape varieties. From the Alto Douro to the vineyards of the Alentejo region, each location offers distinct grapes that result in wines with captivating profiles.
Harvesting is a complex process that involves several steps, each one fundamental to the production of wines, such as:
1- Preparation and selection: harvesting begins with the careful selection of grapes and preparation of the vines. Winegrowers monitor the ripening of the grapes to then determine the ideal time for harvesting. This process is critical as only ripe, healthy grapes should be harvested. Furthermore, there are grapes that are left on the vines on purpose to create late harvest wines, which are sweet and have a lot of personality.
2- Harvest: in the overwhelming majority of vineyards in Portugal, the harvest is carried out manually between the months of September and may extend until October, in this case, it may vary depending on the region and grape varieties. Workers, equipped with buckets and scissors, walk along the rows of vineyards, harvesting by hand. Manual harvesting is preferred to ensure that the grapes are treated with care and that only the best are selected.
3- Transport of grapes: after harvesting, the grapes are carefully transported to the winery, since, without due precautions, any damage could affect their skins, oxidize or ferment in an unwanted way.
4- Destemming: the grapes go through a process called de-stemming, where the grape berries separate from their stems, preventing the bitter taste of the stems from entering the wine.
5- Crushing: in some regions, this process is done mechanically, while in others, especially in high-quality wines, pressing is gentle and manual. According to tradition, the manual crushing of grapes occurs by treading the grapes, in the presses, being squeezed to extract the must (juice).
6- Pressing: this stage does not occur in all wines, being especially dedicated to white wines and certain rosé wines. Pressing ensures that there is no contact between the must and the skins and other residues, resulting in pure wines.
7- Fermentation: the resulting juice is placed in fermentation tanks, where the sugars present in the must are converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide by the action of yeast. The temperature and fermentation time vary, depending on the type of wine you want to produce, and is strictly controlled by the winemakers.
8- Maturation and aging: After fermentation, the wine can undergo a period of maturation in stainless steel tanks or oak barrels, for example, helping to improve the flavor and texture of the wine. Furthermore, aging time may vary depending on the style of wine you intend to produce.
9- Bottling and labeling: when the wine reaches the ideal point of maturation, it is bottled and labeled. The choice of bottle, cork and label is important for the preservation and identification of the wine. The information on the label includes the region, grape varieties, producer and type of wine.
10- In the glass: after all these steps, the wine is ready to be enjoyed, whether through a unique experience or even with a good meal.
Each of the above steps is executed with precision and passion. The wines convey the characteristics of their terroir, their tradition and, not least: the incredible skill of the winegrowers and winemakers. From manual harvesting to bottling, harvests in our country are a testament to the commitment to excellence in wine production.