Already considered one of the world’s great wine-growing regions, the Alentejo has received many different distinctions that extol its beauty, history, and tradition. The environmental preservation that the region has always managed to maintain is often highlighted.
Made up of several inland municipalities of the districts of Portalegre, Évora, and Beja, the more than 3,000 hours of annual sunshine make it a region specially endowed for the production of excellent wines.
The dynamism of the Cooperative Adegas, based on the experience, wisdom, and knowledge passed from producer to producer, from generation to generation, has contributed greatly to this. Thus, Alentejan winegrowing not only boosted the economy of the entire region but also became a postcard for tourists originating from the four corners of the world.
The extensive undulating plains populated by vast olive groves and vineyards, extensive cork oak and holm oak forests (the Alentejo is the world’s largest producer of cork), natural parks, hunting areas, and reservoirs, have given it a diversity of landscapes that are also characterised by low population density. For this reason, architectural landmarks, such as palaces, churches, castles or manor houses, are currently being combined with new accommodation options aimed at rural tourism. The “Alentejano Monte” is the true brand image of these landscapes.
Wine tourism has in turn given new strength to the region, with a direct impact on revenues, but also acting as an instrument for the global dissemination of wine culture.
With a vineyard area of around 24,000 hectares (including common vines and new plantations), the Alentejo Wine Region includes 8 areas with a Denomination of Controlled Origin designation: Portalegre, Redondo, Reguengos, Vidigueira, Évora, Granja/Amareleja, Moura, and, not least, Borba.
In this large area, the production of a wine certified as GI – Geographic Indication of the Alentejo Region is accepted. Within this vast area, there are 8 small subregions, including Borba, defined by their tradition and distinctive wine production.
In the subregions, where Borba is included, it is possible to produce a wine with the DO Alentejo seal, a symbol of the tradition and distinctiveness that characterize these wines.
The distinctive characteristics of the existing soils, depending on the area (granite, limestone, Mediterranean or schist), the climate, and the winemaking practices have made it possible, from early on, to offer quality wines, combining taste with tradition.Contribute to the success of this region: live Alentejo!
Until the Middle Ages, vine growing complemented the rest of agricultural production in the Alentejo.
From the 17th century onwards, this became an important cultivated product in the region, with a great underlying economic impact. It was also from this period that wine from Borba began to stand out thanks to its differentiated quality. For this reason, the prosperity of the region is directly linked to the development of wine production.
The signing of the Methuen Treaty contributed even more to this development, as it was agreed that Portuguese wines could be exported to England without customs duties, thus emphasising the quality of Portuguese wine compared to French wine.
What is more, and from the 19th century onwards, a great deal of technological innovation in the wine sector took place. If, until then, this activity had been carried out exclusively in clay amphora, the Industrial Revolution led to the appearance of the first wine presses (in Borba: marble wine presses), other types of presses and other winery equipment. It was also during this period that the first families to embrace this cultivation emerged, with a greater scale of production, following the logic of what would become that of the professionalised winegrower.
There are many examples of these families, but here we will only mention two that played an important role in the evolution of Borba wine.
The Mendonça family and the Casa Comercial that they created in Borba around 1893 is a good example of this new generation of wine entrepreneurs. Great wine merchants and also producers in Borba had the vision to introduce new grape varieties, to add value to the region’s wine by creating brands, and so they launched one of the region’s most iconic brands: “Montes Claros”.
The Rézio family (Mariano and Esmeralda Rézio, married in 1937) also had a journey worth mentioning. This involved their transition from the primitive technique of winemaking using amphora, with a cellar with 46 clay amphora on the ground floor of their residence, to becoming one of the 12 founders of the Adega Cooperativa de Borba and being a member of the first Board. Their sons and granddaughters in June 2021 inaugurated the “Interactive House/Museum of Borba” in the family house, a tribute to this journey and testimony to a centuries-old production method, and this is now an obligatory stop for anyone visiting Borba (www.emrezio.pt).
Despite this growth, there were some milestones that created changes in vineyard cultivation, such as the worldwide phylloxera crisis, the Napoleonic invasions or the Wheat Campaign, which imposed cereal growing in the Alentejo (the myth of being Portugal’s granary). Even so, from the 1940s onwards, the vineyards were already flourishing again in the region, and the first large producers appeared at that time. It was some of these producers who, driven by dissatisfaction at the unfavourable conditions they experienced in the wine trade and aware of the need to evolve economically and technically, led to the foundation, in 1955, of the Adega de Borba, one of the first to be created in Portugal.