Winemaking pioneers of Portugal
“The search for quality is key. Our yields are relatively low… and our vineyards are on average older than other vineyards in the same areas. We focus on quality rather than producing large quantities.” - António Soares Franco
José Maria da Fonseca pioneered drip irrigation in Portugal, implementing the system in their vineyards as early as 1993. They were also among the first to grow cover crops between vine rows to retain moisture and enhance biodiversity. The soils are fertilized with grape stems and organic matter from pruning. The goal of the winery is to find a balance between technology and the preservation of natural resources.
Highly prized, old vine vineyards
While the majority of José Maria da Fonseca’s vineyards were replanted in the late 1980s to early 1990s, the estate boasts several old vine vineyards. In the warm plains of Alentejo, in southern Portugal, lies one of the winery’s most cherished vineyards. The Monte da Ribeira plot, in Reguengos de Monsaraz, was planted in the 1950s. It was the first trellised vineyard in Portugal using granite poles.
Traditional clay pot vinification
Local grape varieties Trincadeira, Aragonez and the exquisite Grand Noir grow in the Monte da Ribeira vineyard. The ancient technique of fermenting in clay pots is used here to craft authentic wines expressing a unique character typical of the region. This vinification method preserves wonderful freshness in the wine. With age, complex aromas of dates, chocolate, leather and earth develop in these exceptional wines.
A treasured family recipe
The traditional sweet pastries of Azeitão are a favourite of the Soares Franco family. This recipe of eggs, sugar, flour and cinnamon has been passed down from one generation of the family to next. The delicate, flaky texture and soothing sweetness pairs perfectly with José Maria da Fonseca’s Moscatel de Setúbal. This sweet, fortified Muscat is very fresh, with complex flavours derived from ageing in traditional cellars.