Vinha da Ordem vineyard history dates back to the Foundation of Portugal, at the beginning of the 12th century.
After long and violent struggles to reconquer the Iberian Peninsula from the Moors, much of the recovered territory, including Valhelhas, had suffered devastating effects with high population losses.
Therefore, soon after these territories were stabilized and, in an attempt, to encourage the establishment of new settlers, privileges were granted by the King, enshrined in royal charters, called Forais.
It is in these charters also attributed to the strategic Vila de Valhelhas that at the beginning of the Foundation of Portugal, in the sec. XII, more precisely in the year 1188, the first records of the existence of vines and wine in Valhelhas appear. For over 832 years.
By the hand of the then second King of Portugal D. Sancho I, O Povoador, in this Charter, the guardianship of the village of Valhelhas was granted to the Order of the Temple and its friars. The King also ordered the restoration of the fortress in the old castro de Valhelhas, following the formation of a defensive border line aimed at stopping enemy advances on the recently conquered territories around Coimbra.
From this charter, as well as from the immediate donation of the town to D. Gomes Ramires, Master of the Temple Order, it appears that wines were produced here by the monks of the Order of the Temple at the place called, still today in a military letter, "Vinha de Order".
The 12th century charter was, however, renewed in the 13th century by D. Afonso II in 1217.
Later, after eliminating the Order of the Temple in 1311, the management of the village was transferred temporarily to the Crown, but which a few years later (1318) could transfer it to the Order of Christ.
Finally, there is the third and last charter granted by the hand of King Manuel (see photos of the charter) in the year 1514, where the existence of wines in Valhelhas is textually mentioned, which would be used at Christmas time as one of the forms of payment fees from the village to the Kingdom.
The village of Valhelhas received three Charters, and its management was attributed to several Religious and Military Orders, hence it can be assumed that the name of the place where the vineyard is located "Vinha de Ordem", as can be seen in the Military Letter was place of wine production since the Foundation of Portugal.
There are other interesting references to the Wine of Valhelhas throughout the History of Portugal, namely, in a document from 1439 ("Letter of Discharge Passed to the Almoxarife Da Guarda 1439") which states that, through the storekeeper of Guarda, it was paid in Valhelhas wine to the blacksmiths from Ceuta in North Africa.
Another important document is the Papal Bull of 1503 addressed to Valhelhas for the appointment of a group of judges in order to resolve a dispute between the lord of the land Rodrigo de Castro and the Order of Avis.
It is worth mentioning the existence of a significant Franciscan convent 4 km from Valhelhas, where 25 friars lived in the 19th century. XVIII. Little known place, but of unique beauty and named Monastery of Bom Jesus de Valhelhas. Thus, the importance that Valhelhas had was once again evidenced.
We thus travel through the vast period between the twelfth and eighteenth centuries.
RECENT HISTORY OF THE VINE: FROM XIX TO XXI CENTURY
One of the interesting aspects of this vineyard is its "recent" history and the transmission of the cultural legacy, knowledge and techniques about vines and wine, which has been passed on from generation to generation, often by oral tradition and learning by doing.
However, the first question that arises is:
How will a vineyard belong to a Religious Order pass into the private domain? How did the transition from the public and religious domain to the private one take place? The answer lies in the liberal movements of the 19th century.
Going back to 1834, we arrive at the year in which the Liberal Government, by the hand of Minister Silva Carvalho, begins the sale of National Assets. This sale was preceded by an important process of incorporation that affected the assets of the Church, the Royal Family and part of those of the Crown, and which led to the distribution, made through the State, of all this enormous movable and immovable wealth.
It is assumed that, like many properties integrated during this process into the national heritage and later sold, these vineyards were sold at public auction between 1834 and 1844.
In this way, Vinha de Ordem will have passed from the hands of the Kingdom and the Church to a private domain, and has remained so until the present date.
Vinha da Ordem vineyard has been transiting within the same family since the mid-1800s, for four generations. In this way, family Saraiva Jerónimo maintains a deep connection to the countryside and nature and continues these values transition between generations.
This recover project was born in one of the "Conversations around the wine 'held in the College of Agronomy, South Region of the Engineers, who encouraged the producer and the family to recover a vineyard, once exploited by various religious orders such as the Temple which produced wine since the early Portugal Foundation, preserving a small part of the History and Culture of Portugal.
Jerónimo family and the wine producer, Engineer Pedro Jerónimo, accompanied by Professor Virgilio Loureiro and Professor José Sobral, are developing the recovery project of the "Vinho da Ordem" which is located in the village of Valhelhas in the Natural Park of Serra da Estrela, in a hidden valley on the left bank of the River Zêzere.
The anchor product of this project is the wine, inspired by the array of old wines of Europe.
With natural production processes this is a unique wine made from centuries-old strains is ideal for sampling between family and friends.
With gratitude to the Engineer Fernando Mouzinho, who with his commitment has made know this project to all colleagues, friends and wine lovers.