Updated: Jul 21
In Alentejo, Portugal, amongst golden rolling hills, cork oak forests, near the medieval Castle of Vidigueira and Roman ruins of São Cucufate, you find the impassioned oenologist Felipe, and his wife Sofia Teixeira, of Herdade do Sobroso.
The sustainable winemaking ways they’ve established has earned them accolades within the community, and praise from Wine Enthusiast, “A blend of the best parcels of Alicante Bouschet and Syrah...the wine is richly textured, smooth and polished. Dark black fruits and delicious tannins.”
In our interview with Felipe we learn a little more about the amazing area, and the various varieties of grapes that go into creating their distinct wines.
The vineyards of Herdade do Sobroso on the banks of the Guadiana River.
Q: How did you end up at the winery?
A: Sobroso is a family owned farm and winery belonging to my wife’s family. My wife, Sofia, and I are responsible for managing the properties – the vineyard, the wine production, the hotel, the forests, and the agriculture. It is a big property with 1600 hectares (3950 acres).
Q: Everyone talks about terroir. What makes yours unique?
A: Herdade do Sobroso sits on the banks of the Guadiana River Valley, the 3rd largest in Portugal. The soil where our vineyard grows is extraordinarily complex, varying from clay to schist to sand and rolled pebbles. The soil is the result of the last deicing age that occurred 100,000 years ago. Although inland and 90km away from the coast, the weather is influenced by the predominant winds coming from the ocean during summertime, which brings us some humidity and cool nights. All these elements collaborate to create the terroir of Vidigueira, famous for white wines, and fresh and elegant red wines.
Filipe Teixeira in his vineyards.
Q: What do you do to keep your wines and land healthy?
A: Herdade do Sobroso is a pioneer in Sustainable Farming in Alentejo. Sobroso is one of the founding members, together with the DOC Alentejo Certification Commission, of the Alentejo Wines Sustainability Program (PSVA). We have planted 600,000 cork trees over the past 15 years. Concerning soil fertilization, I am only using sheep and cow manure and minimum pesticides.
Q: How many different grape varieties do you work with?
A: I am working with a wide range of varieties, both Portuguese and International. Our focus is on the impressive indigenous Portuguese varieties. The international varieties we grow and incorporate, act as the salt and pepper to our blends.
Our red varieties are: Aragonez, Trincadeira, Alfrocheiro, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Alicante Bouschet.
Our white varieties are all Portuguese: Antão Vaz and Perrum (local varieties from our sub-region Vidigueira), Arinto, Verdelho and Alvarinho.
Q: If you use non indigenous grapes, what is the reason?
A: I use non indigenous grapes that are well adapted to the climate. They can be used to add various notes and create distinctive character.
Some typical Portuguese foods featured at Herdade do Sobroso.
Q: Tell us something about your region that makes it special:
A: Alentejo accounts for one third of Portugal. Being so big you can imagine it is also diverse. Sobroso is right in the middle, in Vidigueira. Being inland we have warm and dry summers and cold winters. It does not rain a lot and when it does it is mainly during Autumn and Spring. It is Europe’s sunniest spot. Even in winter the days are bright and mainly sunny. It is the best place for year round wine tourism.
Winemaking in the region dates to the Roman Empire era. Today it is still possible to visit a well preserved ancient Roman farm nearby.
Q: Tell us a little bit about the food of your region:
A: Alentejo is a place for foodies. You have all sorts of black pig sausages and chorizos (chouriços em portuguese), delicious raw sheep and goat cheeses, and some of the best olives and olive oils you can find. The meat here is mainly pork and lamb, and you also get a wide variety of fresh fish from the Atlantic coast, such salted cod.
Wish you could experience this amazing region and go wine tasting through Alentejo: Join our up and coming TINTO Travel Tour!
Buy Herdade do Sobroso wines | HERE