For years we have wanted hand painted decorative panels of azulejos - tiles - in our lagares – our open fermentation tank room where we foot tread and make our outstanding Ports. First we had to sell enough Porto! Second Vincent and I couldn’t figure out what to use as a theme – the Quinta do Tedo bird was an obvious, but how to make our « own story » conveyed as well? Jorge made it very clear after last year’s harvest that we needed to move forward, and suggested to combine our own viticultural backgrounds into the panels. The result is 6 beautiful blue and white azulejos panels – 2 m x 1.7 m / 6 ft x 4.5 ft in size – 5 adorning our lagares walls and 1 displayed outside – with scenes of the Quinta and Vincent’s Burgundian and my Napa Valley backgrounds. How very appropriate !
The word ajulejo originates from Arabic « al-zuleique » ….meaning « small, smooth polished stone », and were developed in the 13th century to imitate Roman mosaics. They are synomonous with Portuguese culture and colorfully decorate interiors and exteriors of churches, palaces, houses, train and subway stations, schools, restaurants, garden walls…even park benches ! They also have a function – to control temperatures in buildings. Predominantly blue and white but also mulitcolored, with religious, historical and cultural scenes, they are inviting to the eye.
I had the honorable assignment to make the project happen. Thanks to very talented artists the tiles were hand painted at the Aleluja factory in Aveiro, the same factory that created the panels for the train station in Pinhão, with renowned panels showing Douro Valley viticultural traditions. Our panels were installed just before the harvest started and they definitely give life to the lagares walls, a welcome improvement.