Quinta de Ventozelo, in Ervedosa do Douro, São João da Pesqueira, is colossal by its lenght, being one of the biggest estates in the entire region. Circa 400 hectares, opposing the traditional, endless small estates that characterize the Douro. The area of Quinta de Ventozelo is the same as it was 500 years ago. The effects of heritage and common inheritance in the region, and not just, that have been fractioned and splitting properties, did not seem to pass in there.
Across its long history, with the first historical references to Ventozelo dating from 1288, it was around the 1500s that the property passed into the possession of the Gentlemen of Casa do Poço de Lamego, who established it as a Quinta, and until the beginning of the 20th century, it remained in possession of the same family. Only after this period did the farm have several owners, it was the object of several modernization and exploration efforts, which in general proved to be of little benefit and / or profitable.
Nowadays, Quinta de Ventozelo owns 200 hectares of vineyards. It means that the other half of the area consists of 150 hectares of protected Mediterranean forest, of immense and varied native flora, habitat for foxes, wild boars, roe deer, hares, riders, eagles and kites, and 20 hectares of olive trees. In this good slice of the Douro, it is not by chance that the current owners use the expression “the Douro in a farm” when describing the new wine tourism offer that is offered.
Throughout the long history, the wine and vineyard have not always been the main activity. Bread, oil and hunting, these were the most important activities. Only with the Marian demarcations does viticulture become more important in the farm's economy. In those times, its vineyard, located on the banks of the Douro, already showed quality when it was integrated in the area of feitoria wines (the wines of the region considered to be of better quality) during the subsidiary demarcations, in the reign of D. Maria I, in 1788, which greatly valued the value of its wines.
This manifest commercial quality of its wines, soon instigated the owner at the time for intense investments in the farm, in particular the planting of vineyards and a large olive grove, with viticulture having a significant weight in the agricultural activities of the property in the late 18th century.
New and decisive page in the history of the property in late 2014, when it was acquired by Gran Cruz, one of the largest companies in the Port Wine sector, which is part of the French group La Martiniquaise. Since 2001, being the largest Port Wine brand, the Gran Cruz group did not have farms in the Douro, buying all its production (in grapes or wine) from more than three thousand winegrowers and cooperatives, with the French market being the fundamental destiny. Quinta de Ventozelo also had an image of its wines associated to large volumes.
The acquisition of Quinta de Ventozelo, reoriented the entire strategy of Gran Cruz followed by its administrator in Portugal Jorge Dias, deeply knowledgeable of the region, the business and the entire wine sector in general. With his team, he made Gran Cruz, the market leader in Port Wine, to be thus umbilically linked to the region of origin of its wines. On the one hand, it ensured a good part of the supply and control of the entire production chain, on the other hand, it directed its wines to high quality segments, be it Port Wine and DOC Douro.
In order to increase quality and notoriety, Quinta de Ventozelo, in turn, was being requalified in order to enhance all its potential, with regard to wine and other activities. Essential to the restructuring of the vineyard, dictated by oenological and landscape criteria. As an example, the preservation and enhancement of old vines in pre- and post-phylloxeric terraces, vines without frames, in the replanting of a vineyard maintaining the old characteristics of mixture of varieties (field blend).
The wines, obviously, started to express the quality and diversity of the Quinta de Ventozelo terroir, taking advantage of the variety of altitude conditions, exposure, age of the vineyards, variety of grape varieties, ways of planting and driving the vineyards. The 200 hectares of vines extend from the bank of the Douro, at about 130 meters, to the top of the farm, above 500 meters, in which whites, with only 12 hectares, achieve remarkable freshness.
Today, the Quinta de Ventozelo wines stand out for their elegance and freshness, wines of incredible gastronomic vocation, with recognized merits inside and outside the country. Innovation is also part of the guidelines, be it in the creation of a range of special wines, they stimulated collaboration with prestigious chefs such as Miguel Castro e Silva, Rui Paula, Vitor Matos and Otávio Freitas, (challenging them to produce Port wine different adapted to your kitchen, for example). Other examples, the creation of new products, such as the Vinzelo Port Wine Vinzelo or the Premium Gin Ventozelo. Interestingly, this Gin is the result of working together with “Cantinho das Aromáticas”, in the creation of a blend of aromatic plants from the native flora of the farm, in which wine alcohol obtained by distillation of wines from Ventozelo was also used.
Wine tourism is a strong bet! Activity based on nature and cultural tourism, in a model of relationship with the place, integration into the landscape classified as World Heritage, valuing its historical-cultural aspect and enjoying the rurality of a Douro farm.