Harvest 2014

September 30, 2014
Annual harvest foot treading at Quinta do Tedo
Annual harvest foot treading at Quinta do Tedo.

Patches of rainfall interrupting gorgeous days of Douro sun add challenges to a harvest that started ahead of usual 5 September harvest date and ended later on 26 September.  Even though the Douro region remains within the 30-yr average of both precipitation and temperature, slightly cooler July and August resulted in grapes ripening later than in the past several years.  The quality looks very good. This year the landscape has remained greener and no one has heard about the terrible Portuguese wildfires that normally plague the hills during the very hot and dry summer months!

Inexhaustable and dedicated Alvaro.
Inexhaustible and dedicated Alvaro.
Son Joe and Peter McElearney (childhood friend from Napa Valley) both worked harvest, super hard-working cellar rats.
Cracking smiles even in the rain!

20 yr-old daughter Odile and I opened doors during the harvest period to a 15-seat “Bistro O.K.” (Bistro Odile and Kay !) under a pergola overlooking our scenic Tedo river.  What better way to spend the day after a tour of our property and a tasting of our ports, Douro DOC red wines and olive oil.  The Portuguese/Californian/French fusion cuisine (what would you expect ?!) was a novidade for the quinta and our guests were thrilled to dine sur place while the harvest was underway.  Perhaps to offer as well next year ?

Opening day at Bistro O.K.

Opening day at Bistro O.K.

University friend Ariana even got into
University friend Arianna working at Bistro O.K., here together with tour guide Monia.
Fantastic view of Tedo while pairing food to our Porto and wine.
Fantastic view of Tedo while pairing food to our Porto and wine.

Harvest’s last day is always touching, when according to Douro tradition,  the harvest crew, cook, and other workers gather for a little party- with homemade cinnamon-sugar dusted fritas, orange cake bolo and savory meat bolas enjoyed  together with, of course, a glass of Quinta do Tedo Porto.  The workers prepare a song recounting the harvest and offer a bouquet of flowers to the owners and Vincent and I sing back to them, and in turn, offer a tip !  What a wonderful tradition for all.

Last truckload of grapes ready to go!

Last truckload of grapes ready to go!

Cook Adelaide offering bouquet, a Douro tradition.
Vincent and I returning their song with our song to thank them for their hard work.
Long live harvest 2014 (with Italian friends Silvia Lastri and Ricardo Soldani).



Our core work force at Quinta do Tedo

August 31, 2014

Last month I wrote about rebuilding parts of our 4 km/2.5 miles of dry stone walls that were originally built in the 1800s, with photos of our vineyard workers in action.  Thanks to this team our terraced vineyards stand solid.   These exemplary multi-taskers are the quinta’s backbone and an integral part of our success.  As we are minimally mechanized, because of the sheer steepness of our terraced vineyards, we depend on this workforce – to work the vineyard in the winter months with our horse Tedo and  to ensure throughout the year the best viticultural conditions possible to have an excellent grape quality at harvest and, among other duties, to build and rebuild dry stone walls.  In order to work so hard it is essential that they are provided decent working conditions.

Heading off for break for 9:30 meal.

Heading off for 9:30 meal.

A well-deserved break.

A well-deserved break.

Arriving in the summer at 6 :30 as the sky lightens and the temperature is cool,  they work until 9 :30, come in for a light meal to refuel, head back to the vineyards and return at 1 PM for a hot lunch.  A break follows and then back to the vineyard, finishing around 4 PM.  Long, hot hours under the sun with sweat and fine schist dust; we are indebted to them.

Green bean and potato soup and fried fish…..mmmmm….

Green bean and potato soup and fried fish…mmmmm…



Proud to be a « traditional quinta » we serve hot meals to our workers, thanks to our cook Adelaide’s delicious food.  The morning « snack » includes a delicious soup (Adelaide is a pro at this) and a protein and carbohydrate – grilled sardines,  big slabs of bacon or codfish cakes aka « bolinhos de bacalhau » with potatoes and watered-down wine.  At 1 PM a more substantial meal is prepared, with soup again, meat or fish, potatoes, rice or beans, and homegrown vegetables, all prepared in a myriad of ways.  Adelaide cooks not only for the vineyard workers but also for our winemaking and tasting room/agroturismo teams, and V and me.  One day I will put up a plack outside her kitchen « Adelaide’s Place » – but there are only 24 hours in a day, as I remind myself.

Conviviality is ever so important for all work.

Conviviality and sharing a meal is ever so important for all work.

Harvest starts next month and our vineyard workers swell in number from 6 to around 25, women with more hand dexterity for cutting our delicious and ripe grapes and men to carry the grape-filled baskets down the steep terraces  for loading in our trucks.  The sooner the grapes come in to press the better and our quinta becomes a beehive of activity, to be reported on next month.

(Français) Notre principale force de travail à Quinta do Tedo

August 29, 2014

Sorry, this entry is only available in Français.

(Français) « Un cycle normal du climat » = 3 mois d’hiver et 9 mois d’enfer !

July 30, 2014

Sorry, this entry is only available in Français.

“Weather cycle normal” = 3 months of winter and 9 months of inferno!

July 29, 2014
Parcel Frente da Quinta with thriving Touriga Nacional,   Touriga Franca, Sousão vines.

Parcel Frente da Quinta with thriving 2-year-old Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Sousão vines.

According to winemaker Jorge “weather cycle normal” so far for 2014, as I inquired about the 3 July rainfall of a whopping 4.3 cm/1.75 in when the average for July is 1.2 cm/½ in for the whole month.  Could this support the climatic changes in the Douro region, as in the rest of the world?  Perhaps the extreme rain on this one day, but so far precipitation and temperature are within 30-year average parameters.

Hard work to repair walls.

Hard work to repair walls.

Filling in with smaller rocks for strengthening walls.

Filling in with smaller rocks to strengthen walls.

Our walls average 1 m deep x 2 m high.

Our walls average 1.5 m to 2.5 m high x 1 m deep/5 – 8 ft x 3 ft.

All the same, there are walls to repair; impossible to hold the rain’s hammering intensity on 1 day.  Portuguese tradition says “the more you lose walls the more wine you will make”, at least that is comforting.  Every year there are walls to repair, we have 4 km/2.4 miles total of traditional dry walls on our property of 14 hectares/34 acres, and this is a good time to repair.  The soil is dry and light and consequently easier to work.  The jugs of fresh diluted wine,  nestled in the soil, are always helpful to the workers.

2012 - before planting.

2012 – before planting.

2014 = 2 years after planting.

2014 – 2 years after planting.

The 3.22 hectares/8 acres of replanted vineyards are thriving after the 2012 planting.  Here are photos of  2012 and 2014.  As much as we wanted to maintain the old vines, they were just not producing – due to age and the more rock vs less soil in thèse terraced vineyards.

Tinta Franca - photo taken 20 July

Tinta Franca – photo taken 20 July.

Too early to predict 2014’s quality, the grapes are turning color and are healthy and following the normal ripening phase.  Vincent tells me that according to vigneron tradition “the hidden quality of the coming harvest is always better than the previous one” – is that a Burgundian saying?  Towards the end of August, when we sample on a daily basis for sugar content, is when we can confidently predict the quality of the approaching harvest.

All roads lead to Quinta do Tedo!

All roads lead to Quinta do Tedo!

This marks the first year that I can spend more time at the quinta, instead of a month here and there. I am now an “empty nester”, as my 3 children are off to their post-highschool studies. The Quinta, the Douro region and Portugal continue to captivate me.  Seems to captivate others as well, as evidenced by the visitors at the quinta, enjoying the dramatic beauty and traditions of the Douro and, of course, the quality port, Douro Doc wine and olive oil that Quinta do Tedo produces.

Summertime with Quinta do Tedo Porto Rosé

June 29, 2014

Summer is here and I would like to share 1 cocktail and 1 apéritif with you: refreshing, eye catching and thirst quenching and with our Porto Rosé!

The cocktail Vincent “discovered” while dining at Roka Akor http://www.rokaakor.com/san-francisco/ - a Quinta do Tedo account in San Francisco.  Porto and sake – why not?  By the way, the restaurant was a gem of a find for Vincent in the Bay area and the dishes were presented with honorable aesthetics.

Porto Rose' Cocktail

“Decoding Annie Parker” from Roka Akor in San Francisco

1.5 oz/ 44 ml Eiko Fiji Dry Sake

1.5 oz/44 ml Quinta do Tedo Rosé  Porto

.25 oz/7.5 ml fresh squeezed lemon juice

Mash 2 raspberries with a whole strawberry and simple syrup.

Add Sake and  Quinta do Tedo Porto Rosé

Hand shake with ice cubes and double strain.

Serve in a glass, such as a Riedel Cognac glass.

Bamboo pick with 2 raspberries as garnish.


This apéritif Vincent devised some time ago.  It is imperative that the Porto Rosé’s temperature is that of a very cold champagne. The addition of  frozen red fruit acts like an ice cube (clever husband Vincent!).

Vincent’s Quinta do Tedo’s Porto Rosé Apéritif

Fill 1/2 full Quinta do Tedo Porto Rosé  in a frozen sugar-rimmed champagne flute.

Add 2 or 3 frozen red fruits (raspberry, strawberry, currant and/or blueberry) in the bottom of the glass to act like an ice cube.

Garnish with a torn piece of a mint leaf, the size of a finger nail.

Discover our cocktails and let us know what you think….

Nos idées sur l’évolution dans la commercialisation du Porto

May 30, 2014

La très complète e-newsletter du Porto et des vins du Douro et Madère For the Love of Port (pour l’amour du Porto) http://www.fortheloveofport.com fait un excellent travail pour la promotion et l’enseignement du vin de Porto et de la vallée du Douro. Au début de cette année, la publication posait la question quant au commerce du porto :

« Nous avons observé beaucoup de changements depuis le passage du millénaire, que prévoyez-vous comme évolution pour la prochaine décade et demie dans la commercialisation du Porto ? »

La réponse des autorités du Porto a été très forte et Vincent a été le porte-parole des réponses émises par la Quinta do Tedo, que je voudrais vous faire partager. Bien que sa réponse ait pris en compte le marché français, elle démontre nos ressentis sur la tendance générale du commerce du Porto et du tourisme dans la vallée du Douro.

« Le premier point est que le Porto, avec une consommation de 40 à 50% dans les pays francophones, perd des parts de marché. D’autres vins doux internationaux à des prix compétitifs ont été introduits et des vins rouges de meilleure qualité pénètrent les pays de l’ancien et du nouveau monde vinicole. Le fort impact des lois de plus en plus sévères sur l’alcool au volant a réduit la consommation et la crise économique a diminué le pouvoir d’achat des individus. Cependant, grâce aux efforts de promotion consentis par le Portugal, le Douro est entrain d’attirer de plus en plus de touristes prenant les vols à bas prix (low-cost) pour atterrir à Oporto, distant du Douro d’une heure et demie en voiture ; de plus les Portugais très hospitaliers sont polyglottes, le Français étant souvent la deuxième langue parlée et les prix pour se loger et se restaurer sont généralement moins chers que dans beaucoup d’autres pays européens. De plus en plus de Français viennent dans le Douro découvrir la qualité de ses vins et du Porto. Les Francophones découvrent d’autres produits que les Ruby et Tawny qu’ils consomment énormément dans leurs pays d’origine, France, Belgique et Luxembourg. Le Porto est un produit unique avec sa propre appellation et la gamme des produits est très diversifiée : Ruby, Tawny, LBV, Vintage etc. La composition du sol et le climat en font certainement un des vins qui peut vieillir plus longtemps que d’autres.

Celui qui n’aurait pas visité le Douro depuis les années 1900, verrait un changement incroyable avec une bien plus importante offre de Portos, vins, hôtels, restaurants, musées et destinations touristiques qui contribuent au développement. L’esprit du Douro est de plus en plus ouvert d’où plus d’hôtels, de restaurants, de locations de voitures, de tours œnologiques internationaux, Great Wine Capitals, etc. l’investissement dans la région et cette dimension internationale toujours en progression verront une progression qualitative du tourisme dans le Douro. Ceci servira l’image internationale du Porto et des vins du Douro, aux cépages spécifiques, comme le Touriga, le Nacional, le Tinta Roriz, le Touriga Franca ayant des caractéristiques uniques qui se suffisent à elles-mêmes, sans avoir à les couper avec du Cabernet Sauvignon et du Merlot pour les rouges, ou du Chardonnay et du Sauvignon blanc pour les blancs. Les particularités de ces cépages portugais produisent grâce à d’excellents œnologues doués de solides bases, beaucoup de produits exceptionnels. Cependant pour accroître sa reconnaissance internationale, celle d’une destination des amoureux du vin, du maintien de la part de marché des vins de desserts et de table, la collaboration des domaines, du gouvernement portugais et des autorités du tourisme n’a jamais eu un rôle aussi important.

Aerial #2 of Quinta

Au confluent des rivières Douro et Tedo, dans une région viticole d’une beauté et d’un dynamisme exceptionnels…


Indigenous grapes of excellent quality, at Quinta do Tedo ours are grown according to strict organic guidelines….

…des cépages indigènes d’une excellente qualité sont plantés, à Quinta do Tedo, les nôtres sont cultivés en pur respect des règles biologiques.


We await you to discover this unique region...

Nous vous attendons pour découvrir cette région unique…


…and to enjoy a glass of Quinta do Tedo.

…et savourer un verre de Quinta do Tedo, le résultat de notre passion chevillée au corps, pour produire du Porto et des vins rouges du Douro d’une exceptionnelle qualité. 

A votre santé !


Big Q: What do you foresee changing in the Port business over the next decade and a half?

May 29, 2014

The comprehensive Port, Douro wine and Madeira e-newsletter FOR THE LOVE OF PORT http://www.fortheloveofport.com does an excellent job in the promotion and education of Port wine and the Douro Valley.  Earlier this year the publication asked the following question to the Port trade:

« We have seen many changes since the turn of the millennium, what do you foresee changing in the Port business over the next decade and a half? »

The response from the Port trade was very strong and Vincent was the main voice in Quinta do Tedo’s response, that I would like to share with you.  Although his answer takes into consideration the French market, it does show our feelings of a general trend in the Port trade and in Douro Valley tourism.

“The first thing is that Port, with 40 – 50% quantitatively consumed in French-speaking countries, is losing market share. Other international competitively-priced sweet wines have been introduced and better red wines are crafted in the old and new wine world. The large impact of stricter laws concerning drunk driving has reduced alcohol consumption and the economic crisis has had an impact on the individual’s budget. However, due to the promotional efforts of Portugal, the Douro will attract more and more tourists due to the fact of economic/low-cost flights coming into Oporto, that the Douro is only 1 1/2 hours by car from Oporto, that the Portuguese in the tourism industry speak multiple languages and French is often the 2nd language spoken and the Portuguese are hospitable, and the prices for lodging and dining are generally less expensive than in many other European countries. There are more and more French coming to the Douro and discovering the quality of the port and wine of the Douro. The French speakers are discovering other products than the largely consumed Ruby and Tawny in their home countries of France, Belgium and Luxembourg.  Port is a unique product with its own appellation, and the product line is diversified, to include Ruby/Tawny/LBV/Vintage and etc, and due to the climate and soil composition are certainly some of the wines that can age longer than others.  Anyone visiting the Douro since the late 1900’s will see a dramatic change with the wider selection of port and wines, hotels, restaurants, museums, tourist destinations that work together to promote.  The Douro mentality is more and more open and hence more hotels, restaurants, rent-a-cars, international wine tours, Great Wine Capitals, etc: the investment in the region and this ever-growing international dimension will see an increase in quality tourism coming to the Douro. This will further the international image of Port and wines of the Douro. The wines of the Douro with their unique grapes to include Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca have unique characteristics that stand on their own, and do not need to have additions of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, for the reds, or Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc for the whites and the uniqueness of these Portuguese grapes produce, together with excellent winemakers with solid training, many outstanding products.  However, to keep growing in international acclaim, to continue to grow as a wine lover’s travel destination and to maintain the market share in dessert wines and table wines, collaboration with wineries, the Portuguese government and the tourism sector has never been more important.”

Aerial #2 of Quinta

Where rivers Douro and Tedo meet, in a dramatically beautiful and dynamic viticultural region…


…indigenous grapes of excellent quality are grown, at Quinta do Tedo ours are grown according to strict organic guidelines.

We await you to discover this unique region...

We await you to discover this unique region…

…and to enjoy a glass of Quinta do Tedo.

…and to enjoy a glass of Quinta do Tedo, the result of our ongoing passion to produce port and Douro red wine of exceptional quality.


La tarte au citron de Petra

April 30, 2014

Le Porto Tawny de Quinta do Tedo s’accorde avec beaucoup de desserts qui comptent dans en tête de ma liste, la tarte tatin, le tiramisu, la tarte aux noix caramélisée et… cette merveilleusement délicieuse tarte au citron de Petra. Pourquoi un Tawny se marie si formidablement avec cette tarte au citron ?

Pendant la période de vieillissement de 6 à 8 ans d’un Tawny (celle de Quinta do Tedo est de 8 ans), l’agressivité des tanins du Porto s’estompe grâce à une lente micro-oxydation. Le Porto Tawny est plus doux suite à un long vieillissement en fût, alors que le Porto se concentre naturellement par évaporation de l’eau (pensez à une réduction de sauce). Des tanins «soyeux » et un Porto plus concentré en résultent, le moelleux de notre Tawny se marie magnifiquement à l’acidité du citron dans la recette suivante.

Petra Casini, une très talentueuse tailleuse de pierres précieuses et orfèvre accomplie de Florence (http://www.petracasini.com), est aussi un cordon bleu ; c’est toujours un plaisir que d’être invitée chez elle pour diner. Elle a partagé ce dessert, la première tranche en appelle une autre. Merci Petra, « nous » garderons la recette chère à notre cœur !

Ingrédients pour 6 personnes

  • 110 grs de beurre
  • 30 grs de sucre en poudre
  • 160 grs de farine
  • 1 demi-cuillère à thé de sel.


Faire fondre le beurre dans une poêle aux bords élevés et y verser à feu doux  le sucre en poudre, la farine et le sel jusqu’à obtenir la forme d’une boule. Laisser reposer pendant que vous beurrez une tôle à tarte de 24 cm. Pressez avec les doigts et faire adhérer la pâte sur le fond et les bords de la tôle, une sorte de « patch work ». Soyez patient, l’effort vaut le coup. Piquez la pâte avec une fourchette et cuire à 180° C (thermostat 6) pour 15 minutes.

Garniture :

  • 4 œufs
  • 350 grs de sucre en poudre
  • Une demi-cuillère à thé de levure
  • Zeste râpé de 2 citrons
  • Le jus de 5 citrons

Mixez au fouet. Versez la garniture sur la pâte précuite et cuire pour 30 minutes. Laisser refroidir à température ambiante et servez accompagné d’un verre de Tawny et appréciez…

Ne pas utiliser de robot ni de fouet électrique et soyez patient avec la pâte.


Petra’s Lemon Tart

April 29, 2014

Quinta do Tedo’s Fine Tawny Port complements many desserts to include, high on my list, tarte tatin, panna cotta, tiramisù, walnut caramel tart, crème brûlée and this hauntingly delicious Petra’s Lemon Tart.  Why does our Fine Tawny pair so terrifically with this lemon tart?

During our Fine Tawny’s 8 years of cask aging (according to legislation Tawny is aged for at least 6 years) the port’s astringent tannins breakdown, thanks to micro-oxidation.  The long barrel aging naturally concentrates the port, as water evaporates through the wood (like reducing a syrup).  The resulting « soft » tannins together with more concentrated natural sugar and aromas heighten our Fine Tawny’s sweetness, and pairs beautifully with the lemon tart’s mellowed acidity and richness of the dessert in the following recipe.

Petra Casini is a talented precious stone cutter and accomplished jewelry designer in Florence, Italy (www.petracasini.com).  She is also a very fine cook; always a pleasure to be invited to her house for dinner.  She has shared with me this dessert, and the first slice begs for another.  Thank you Petra, I will keep this recipe close to my heart.

For 6

110 gr butter

30 gr powdered sugar

160 gr flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt butter in a pan with high sides, and incorporate on a very low flame the powdered sugar, flour and salt until a ball forms. Let it rest while you butter a 24-cm tart pan. Press the crust mixture on the bottom and the sides, using a bit of “patch work” to mend the very rich crust.   Be patient – it is worth the effort. Pierce the crust with a fork and cook at 180°C for 15 minutes.


4 whole eggs

350 gr powdered sugar

½ tsp baking powder

grated lemon peel from 2 lemons (preferably untreated)

5 T lemon juice

Mix the above ingredients with a whisk by hand. Put the filling in the precooked crust and cook for 30 minutes.

Don’t use a robot or electric beaters, and be patient with the crust!

Serve warm or at room temperature with a glass of chilled Tawny, and enjoy.