Let me welcome daughter Odile to her first Quinta do Tedo blog post! With a degree in biology, she is passionate about nature and a huge + for our active outdoors wine tourism, thank you Odilette!
Demarcated in 1756, Douro Valley is the world’s oldest wine region (even older than Burgundy, sorry Froggies!). Man has played an important role in shaping this once untouched landscape into a fertile UNESCO World Heritage Site where some of the best wine and the only true Porto in the world is produced.
However, man is not alone to thank for the high quality of agricultural products that come out of this region. Spring wildflowers bring the steep cliffs, wild and rocky shrub lands, stone-terraced vineyards and olive orchards, and century-old Quintas lining the snake-like Douro River to life in hues of green, red, yellow, white and purple. Besides being beautiful, wildflowers also play an important role in the agricultural productivity of Douro Valley, especially in the vineyards.
During my afternoon walks along the Tedo river and through Quinta do Tedo’s 15.5 hectares of terraced vineyards and olive orchards, I’ve identified and photographed a few of these colorful and diverse plants. Some are just beautiful while others promote resilience and flexibility in the vineyard ecosystem.
For example, honeysuckle and gum rockrose within a 50 meter radius of our vineyards, attract good “auxiliary fauna” (such as ladybugs) which prey on bad, disease-carrying pests (such as the berry moth, which decreases yield and can cause grey mold in vineyards ). Wild lavender is a natural pest repellent (and the national flower of Portugal!) Lupine, vetch and other leguminous (pea family) plants absorb and turn atmospheric nitrogen into a usable form, ammonia, which is stored in the soil and can be used by other plants.
These important plants thrive naturally in Douro Valley’s schist soils and Mediterranean climate, increasing biodiversity, soil nutrients and water retention, and decreasing erosion and pests in the vineyards. They are in-part to thank for Quinta do Tedo’s consistently high-quality and delicious Portos, Douro DOC red wines and olive oil.
Beneficial for our vineyards or for aesthetic pleasure, I share with you recently-taken photos of the color explosion at our estate: