VINE AND REGION
Vinha de Ordem is located in the village of Valhelhas in the central region of Portugal, inside Beira Interior, 20 km equidistant between Covilhã, Belmonte, Guarda and Manteigas,.
This small and very old vineyard, is hidden in a valley next to the River Zêzere, where a type of wine that has been drunk in Portugal and Europe for eight centuries, claret or rosé wine, is produced from centenary vines.
In the military chart, these mountain vineyard, can be easily be identified, with in an altitude of 600 meters. The central element of this legacy is the wine, produced in this vineyard with vines with an average age of over 80 years.
The preservation of such an ancient vineyard, in such a rich and diverse environmental context as the Serra da Estrela Natural Park, was recently recognized by UNESCO ESTRELA GEOPARK. This is a challenge that can only be achieved with hard work and exhaustive knowledge of the existing heritage, both material and immaterial, as well as with the help of family, friends and professionals from different specialties.
Vinha da Ordem is crossed by Ribeira de S. Miguel, a tributary of the Zêzere, (and in medieval Christianity, São Miguel, together with São Jorge, became patron saints of medieval chivalry), an important saint linked to the defence of the Catholic Religion and the Territory.
In the stream there is a small weir that supports the marsh and that allows flooding from time to time the back lands of the property. This was an agricultural technique used in ancient times that allowed the water table to be enriched with water in winter and re-established the water level in the artisanal well as well as hydrating the soil for the long hot summers.
An exhaustive and meticulous work of research and identification of grape varieties has been carried out and duly integrated into a program of national scope, which in the case of Vinha de Ordem is coordinated by the REGIONAL DIRECTORATE OF AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT. In general terms, it was concluded that, before 1985, the vines in Beira Interior were composed of regional varieties, all mixed, most of the time not knowing their name and their characteristics.
In the oldest vineyards, which were the ones that took precedence in the present work, an enormous diversity of grape varieties was found.
The Ordem's vineyard is one of the living examples of these very old vineyards with a great diversity of grape varieties.
In the Ordem's vineyard, work was started on June 13, 2013 by Eng. Luís Vaz, by direct observation of the leaves and stems of the vines.
A new observation was subsequently made, on September 9, 2013, when the fruits (grapes) were already evident.
It was possible to identify about 17 different national varieties, and 3 foreign ones.
Some of the varieties and respective strains, making a total of 6 species, were not yet possible to identify.
In a broader study of identification of Portuguese grape varieties and their classification, these varieties were replanted in their own wine-growing season, in order to preserve the genetic variability of rare and unique species in Portugal that could later have a say in the preservation of viticulture at world level.
From this characterization it was possible to identify rare varieties that can now be reproduced in the vineyard, by grafting on certified stems. In this way, the genetic diversity of the vineyard and the specificity of the Order's wine will be guaranteed.
Grapes such as Rufete, Jaen, Fonte Cal, Syria, Marufo, Folgosão rosado are examples of grape varieties that are strongly present in the vineyard.
THE RECOVEY AND THE FUTURE OF THE VINEYARD
The restoration of Vinha de Ordem has been an arduous task, which began in 2012, after a meeting at the Ordem dos Engenheiros "Conversation around Wine" organized by Eng. Fernando Mouzinho and where Professor Virgílio Loureiro described his work to restore and preserve the viticultural and wine-growing heritage of very old vineyards in Portugal.
From this meeting and allied to Saraiva Jerónimo family's desire to preserve the heritage and make it known, under the tutelage of Professor Virgílio Loureiro, the idea arose of recovering the Vineyard in its original molds, since we were facing a living fossil, preserving the legacy that the old generations left us, the ancestral varieties and reproducing the Wine that for centuries would be the matrix of the wines of ancient Europe, the rosé wines, clarets or straws.
In the future, many challenges await us, namely in the vineyard. Adaptation to a constant rise in maximum and average temperatures and a very significant reduction in precipitation rates.
The future is about sustainability. The preservation and respect of environmental, social and cultural values based on an approach to the efficient use of resources, as well as the implementation of a circular economy.
One of our pillars of action involves optimizing the process and consequent mitigation and offsetting of associated carbon emissions.
We are therefore making progress with the calculation of CO2 emissions associated with each process and material, as well as developing and implementing a set of objective and measurable measures that are proof of this continued effort to reduce emissions.
Therefore, we hope to achieve not only preserve the past but also contribute to a better future.
Inserted in the Vineyard, there is a rural house, which served as a night shelter typical of this area. In Beira Alta, unlike in Beira Baixa, these houses were preferably built in high, stony places with difficult access.
The way of pairing (laying) the stone is dry masonry. Granite and schist, being common materials in this region, are also used in structuring points, as this stone and chestnut wood are extracted from the vicinity.
Possibly the main schist wall would serve as a walled axis where cattle ranching circulated.
The house is divided into two floors, the first one should be used for housing and the lower one for animals - corral (to store fertilizer and as heat emanated and the hot air tends to rise, heating the upper floor - housing), or to store groceries, products and agricultural materials.
In this typology from the 18th-20th centuries, chestnut wood is very common on the floor, supported by wooden beams, which divide the two floors. The house dates to the end of the 18th century, beginning of the 19th century.
THE HOUSE OF THE VINEYARD
Valhelhas is a small vilage, located in the heart of the region of Beira Interior inside Natural Park of Serra da Estrela is the vineyard birthplace.
Halfway between Guarda and Manteigas, Valhelhas is located at the end of formidable Glacier Valley of Zêzere, part of the unique landscape of stunning beauty of the Natural Park.
There are several ways to enjoy this natural sanctuary. Walking becomes the most calmly and friendly for the nature. Sleeping where you can listen to the cool sounds of the mountain. Whenever possible, crossing the tracks on foot or by bike. You can also revitalize energy in river beach Valhelhas in clean and fresh Rio Zêzere waters.
The Natural Park of Serra da Estrela, with all its biodiversity, provide a single ride, where you can find places of great natural interest.
Valhelhas is also close to Belmonte, only 10 km, you can visit interesting museums and have contact with one of the most important epics of our history: The Discovery. It Belmonte, homeland of Pedro Alvares Cabral, leading the Portuguese navigatores who discovered the sea route to Brazil. But there is much more to know in Belmonte, as the Jewish Quarter or the Castle.
Further north in the Guarda city, the imposing Cathedral is a must see, and well the Historical Center and the Museum, important piece for those interested in history.
And if your interest is on the Serra da Estrela Glacier Valley will have to make a mandatory stop in Manteigas in Interpretive Center Valley Glacier Zêzere. Already with one foot in the Serra, before traveling to higest point, the tower point with almost 2000 meters, you can stop at birth place of River Zêzere and River Mondego.
In addition to these natural and historical beauties will have to taste in Valhelhas, birthplace Vinho da Ordem, on of the gastronomic delights of the region.
Thanks for your visit!
THE REGION TO VISIT
UNESCO ESTRELA GEOPARK
Walking together and sharing values
It is a great honor for Vinho da Ordem becoming partner with UNESCO ESTRELA GEOPARK.
As a result of the common desire to preserve the natural, geological and cultural heritage, this partnership emerges.
Currently recognized by UNESCO Estrela Geopark, Vinha da Ordem continues the tradition of the production process of red wines from the Middle Ages, using grapes from centenary vines of very old varieties.
Come and see the diversity of our vineyards and taste our wines, in the magnificent environment of the Natural and Geological Park of Serra da Estrela.