“We have twelve varieties, with which we can supply Portuguese grapes from July to November,” stated Luis Afonso, of Vale da Rosa. “The climate in southern Portugal, with around 3,000 hours of sunshine per year and cold nights, make the area around Alentejo ideal for grape production.”
With about 260 hectares, Vale da Rosa is the country’s largest grape producer, but this is not so interesting for Afonso. “We aim to grow the best quality grapes of Portugal; quality stands above quantity!”
Around 70% of the grapes are intended for the domestic market. “Besides the two largest supermarket chains, we supply local markets across the country. Back in the 70’s, we started exporting to England and now we also export to Spain, France, Poland, Germany and the Netherlands. Coming season, we will send our first grape shipments to Brazil,” explains Afonso.
Currently, Vale da Rosa grows six seedless varieties (Sugraone, Sophia, Midnight Beauty, Thompson, Autumn Royal and Crimson) and five varieties with seeds (Cardinal, Victoria, Italia, Red Globe, Palieri and Black Pearl). It also tests new varieties at its own experimental plots. The grapes are grown under nets and plastic to protect them from wind, hail and rainfall. This also makes it possible to extend the harvest period from July (sometimes June) until November.
The grape grower has good prospects for the Portuguese campaign. This season, an investment of 700,000 Euro has been made for the implementation of the Marco weighing system in the warehouse. With the introduction of this equipment featuring the latest technology, the production capacity of the packing centre has tripled this year.
Author: Izak Heijboer