Quinta da Pacheca, Douro Valley, Portugal
Alwyn first entered through the tree lined cobbled road to Quinta da Pacheca on a scooter in March 2000. He met the late Jose Serpe Primentel in the tasting room and they struck up a conversation that led to a lifelong friendship with the family.
Alwyn harvested at Quinta da Pacheca that year and was given free reign to make a port aiming for vintage status. He did just that and the Quinta da Pacheca Vintage Port 2000 were awarded vintage status and received several awards. In Portugal only the best ports are awarded Vintage status.
Quinta da Pacheca was documented as a farm in the 1550’s and wine is still made in the solid granite lagars (open fermenters) and treaded by foot. This tradition is celebrated at the beginning of harvest with friends and strangers alike stomping grapes barefoot to the tune of a piano accordion. Harvesting is very labour intensive with steep hills, narrow roads and only a few rows of vineyard between terraced stone walls. Wines are still made the traditional way and are left to ferment in the lagars for weeks before being moved to French oak barrels. They produce Vintage Port, Ruby Port, White Port, Tawny Port and Colheita Port as well as several excellent red and white wines.
Alwyn did 4 harvests at Quinta da Pacheca and formed a lasting friendship with Jose Primentel Jnr. The vineyards that grow along the steep riverbanks of the Douro valley are not irrigated and survive on ground water and seasonal rains resulting in a low yield and exceptional grape quality, perfect for port. Alwyn fell in love with the Douro Valley and Portuguese Port. Back in South Africa he made his own Port, Quinta do Sul (translated Vineyard in the South) 2008 and 2009 from a small vineyard in Calitzdorp in true Portuguese style and was awarded multiple double gold awards.
After a dinner with Paul Symington in South Africa in 2005, Alwyn was invited to stay with the family to make wine and port at the Symington Family Vineyards in the Douro Valley at their Quinta de Roriz cellar, another dream come true. The Douro valley definitely have not seen the last of the Liebenberg’s…time for another visit.