“It was hard work but also a lot of fun. My family was poor. My mother was a rural worker and my father worked in construction. We had a very small vineyard and every year my father made a barrel to consume at home and with friends. For a long time that was my connection to wine.”
When his mother died, he felt a great nostalgia for his telluric experience and he began to be attracted by a call from the earth. He had graduated in primary education and Portuguese culture, but never practiced, becoming a journalist in one of the country’s flagship newspapers, PÚBLICO. There he was editor of a travel, gastronomy and a wine supplement called FUGAS, where he started writing about wines.
“On a Saturday in Spring 1998, I and my wife, Cristina, left home with the idea of buying a small vineyard in the Upper Douro. We chose the Upper Douro because it is a wilder region. As a journalist, I had met the mayor of the village of Muxagata in the region of Vila Nova de Foz Coa. and went to him first. He showed us a farm of 7 hectares next to the river Douro, beautiful to die for. We went to the place and closed the deal on the same day, although we did not have any money. But by putting together all our savings, by mortgaging our apartment and selling four years’ production in advance to a port company, Ramos Pinto, we were able to raise the money we needed to take our madness and our dream forward.”
The vineyards were good for producing port, but the place was too hot for dry wines. A few years later, another producer wanted to buy a fifth of their vineyard for twice the price they had paid. They sold and started to buy small vineyards and virgin land for new plantations in the village of Muxagata, but now at about 500 meters above sea level.
“We have three daughters and whenever a daughter was born we bought a new vineyard. Today we have about 25 hectares in Muxagata. It is there, in a place surrounded by mountains, that since 2009 we make the Mapa wines. The first vintage was in 2009 for the reds and 2010 for the whites. Ah! I continue to write about wines in PÚBLICO.”