Soalheiro: wines from the center of the Alvarinho valley
Soalheiro, a pioneer in the creation of Alvarinho wine in Melgaço, is an international benchmark for the wines of this grape variety, blending perfectly into the distinctive Minho landscape surrounding it. In the nineteen seventies (1974), a passion for winemaking led João António and Palmira Cerdeira, with the support of the parents, to plant the first Alvarinho vine in Melgaço, 1974, which would give the name, in 1982, to the first brand of Alvarinho in Melgaço – Soalheiro.
Today the company is run by the third generation, siblings António Luís, winemaker, and Maria João, vineyards and herbal teas manager, with help of their mother, Palmira. They are focused on Alvarinho (mineral, fruity, natural, sparklings, blends, spirits) and they are discovering a new territory for Loureiro with Atlantic influence.
Located in Monção & Melgaço (Portugal’s northernmost territory), in the Minho River valley, it is protected by a range of mountains that create the conditions necessary – temperature, hours of sunshine, rain – for the best ripening of Alvarinho grapes.
Soalheiro started in the family’s garage in 1982, and the winery took the place of the family’s red Ford Escort. Today, they are exactly in the same place, at the center of the Alvarinho valley – they modernized their winery to a more eco efficient building with a natural cover that allows them to save around 26% energy a year. Their tasting room is on top of our winery and has an impressive panoramic view of our Territory.
On the new building, there is a Sparkling cellar, that pays homage to one of our first innovations – in 1995 the first Alvarinho Sparkling was made. Next to it, there is Innovation room, an incubator for the ideas of our team and friends.
The company has 14 hectares of Alvarinho vineyards certified organic and it collaborates with more than 150 families of viticulturists that are part of our Club of Producers who source Soalheiro with the best quality grapes.
At Quinta de Folga they offer gastronomic experiences based on local products, mainly on traditional smoked meats from Melgaço, locally called “fumeiro”, made out of Bísaro pig, an autochthonous breed that we rise at Quinta de Folga. They also have their organic vegetable garden, and herbal tea fields.
Herbal teas are one of the company’s latest projects, they do tastings, and they have a house where guests can spend the night right in the middle of these fields – the house has three rooms and a small swimming pool where the typical landscape of our territory can be enjoyed.
The typical tour and tasting lasts for 1.5-2 hours. It starts with visiting the winery’s first vineyards, where it all started, and which gave name to the brand – Soalheiro. Then, tourists visit the herbal teas fields and project, where it is explained what happened in our Territory before 1974, when the first Alvarinho vineyard was planted. Next stop, the winery, where a guide explains the vinification process, and visitors see the Sparkling wine cellar and the Innovation room, with its diversity of projects. To end the visit, they go up to the winery’s terrace where the tasting can be done indoor or outdoor, always with a panoramic view of our territory and with the best image to explain the incredible natural and cultural conditions that gave birth to the Alvarinho we know today.