Old Grape Varieties

An interesting meeting today with representatives of ATEVA - Associação Técnica dos Viticultores do Alentejo who are in the Serra de São Mamede collecting plant material from old vines. There are not that many old vineyards left in the Alentejo and the fragmented holdings around us here in the Serra de São Mamede are a treasure trove of old varieties. It seems that in the past the serra has been a confluence of different influences with grape varieties from the north, south and Spain coming together in the same place, often jumbled up in the same vineyard. The tecnicos from ATEVA have, not only been finding an assortment of different varieties (about half a dozen unidentifiable), they have also found old clones of grapes like Aragonez and Castelão which are quite different from those planted today. The plant material is being analysed and catalogued by PORVID - Associação Portuguesa para a Diversidade da Videira a national project to uncover the diversity of Portuguese varieties. I have written about this before in my book on Port and there is an experimental vineyard being planted at Pegões ne Setúbal where these old varieties will be propagated and monitored.