Sustainable Viticulture

Our vineyards are farmed under the Integrated Production Management protocol. This certification ensures a strict policy of minimum intervention and limited treatments in the vineyard. Our use of precision viticulture management tools means that vine disease can often be predicted and tackled with preemptive action, requiring less intrusion in the vineyard and a more balanced ecosystem. This approach has led to a visible increase in the diversity of the flora and fauna in our vineyards.

Organic Vineyards

We farm 112 hectares of organic vineyard where all grasses are controlled by tractor mowing and hand-held strimmers and no herbicides or pesticides are used. This is the largest area of organic vineyard in the Douro region. Cover crops conserve soil moisture and combat erosion, while contributing organic matter to the soil. Cover crops are a defence against unwanted weeds and provide a habitat for insects, which are an essential part of the food chain.

Cover cropping

In many places we sow cover crops between the rows of vines to help conserve moisture, combat erosion, and contribute organic matter to the soil. Cover crops are a defence against unwanted weeds and provide a habitat for predatory insects which control pests that can damage the vines. This technique also helps the vineyards provide a healthy habitat for birds, reptiles and mammals, ensuring greater biodiversity in our region.

Terracing preservation

The Douro valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, classified as a man-made cultural landscape of outstanding beauty. We maintain approximately 93 kilometres of old stone terraces on our properties, which besides supporting vines serve as havens for the Douro’s flora and fauna. A 2018 study published by the International Organisation of Vine and Wine, ‘Functional Biodiversity in The Vineyard’, highlights the contribution made by dry-stone walls to the biodiversity of vineyards. The numerous cavities provide shelter and nesting habitats for reptiles and small mammals and a variety of insects, which, in turn, provide a source of food for birds. The Malvedos Stone Terraces, home to one of the Douro’s last populations of Black Wheatears — the so-called ‘Port Wine Bird’ — are a clear example of this.

Wildlife Recovery Centre

We have supported the Vila Real (UTAD) University’s Wildlife Rescue Centre (Centro de Recuperação de Animais Selvagens, CRAS) since 2011. This specialist unit is one of a kind in Portugal and has an international reputation. Each year it nurses hundreds of injured birds and other animals back to health, and several species of birds of prey have been freed at our vineyards in the Douro over recent years.

Endangered Species

We provide the University of Porto’s Research Centre for Biodiversity and Genetic Resources (CIBIO) with access to our properties in the Douro for research purposes. In 2018, we hosted Joel Sartore, the award-winning National Geographic wildlife photographer, as part of the Photo Ark project that has taken him to over 40 countries since 2005 in a quest to photograph 12,000 animal species under threat or close to extinction. At Quinta dos Malvedos Joel photographed a bird called the Black Wheatear, known locally as the chasco-preto (Oenanthe leucura) and a Desman (a small semiaquatic nocturnal insectivore mammal).

Wildlife sanctuaries

We manage 1,231 hectares of principally natural Mediterranean scrubland (with some olive and orange groves), which provide valuable sanctuaries for a wide range of animals including wild boar, foxes, genet cats, numerous birds of prey and many other small mammals. This area is half of our total landholding and makes a significant contribution to habitat preservation and biodiversity in the region. In our largest property, Quinta do Vesúvio, just 40% of the area is planted with vineyards and the remainder is a nature haven where many species of flora and fauna thrive.

Forest regeneration

At Quinta da Fonte Souto in the Alentejo we are implementing a reforestation programme on 100 hectares of forestry land that we own and manage within the Serra de São Mamede natural park. 62 ha of this forest was logged in the past 6 years, before we acquired the property, and 35 ha is protected cork oak forestry. We are replanting the logged areas with a range of indigenous Portuguese tree species and will manage the forest as a nature reserve to protect local biodiversity and act as a natural form of carbon capture as well.