Secretary of State for Agriculture visited Adega do Cantor…which has a new owner

Rui Martinho was on a visit to the Algarve yesterday to see some investments and the problems of the sector.

Joaquim Pires, successful Portuguese-French businessman, honorary consul of Portugal in Nice, commander, has been, since last July, the new owner of Adega do Cantor, near Guia (Albufeira).

Due to his multiple tasks in France, the businessman was unable to follow the visit that Rui Martinho, Secretary of State for Agriculture and Rural Development made to the winery farm yesterday.

Luísa Braziel, director of Adega do Cantor, who was the host, explained that Joaquim Pires intends to “continue the project, improving it”.

In fact, the entrepreneur himself, in an interview with the Lusopress channel, had already announced his intention to continue producing what he considers to be «the best rosé in Portugal», as well as launching the «best sparkling wine in Europe».

Luísa Braziel added that the estate usually produces its wines – Vida Nova and Onda Nova – from grapes produced on its land at Quinta do Miradouro, but also “buying grapes from Sir Cliff Richard's vineyard”, Quinta do Moinho, located next door, and from another neighbor, linked to the former owners.

But, he revealed, «with the new owner, this year we bought more grapes, always here in Albufeira». Because, he added, «the new owner wants to increase production», going from the current 100 to 200 bottles a year, which is the processing limit for the current winery.


Pedro Valadas Monteiro, Algarve's regional director for Agriculture, recalled that «this was the winery that sparked new interest in wine in the region, benefiting from the notoriety of Sir Cliff Richard», a British singer known worldwide.

«We are the pioneers in reviving the Algarve's wine», confirmed Luísa Braziel.

Since it was created, first through Cliff Richard's dream of producing wine in the Algarve that he loves so much, then with the investment of former owners, Nigel and Lesley Birch, Adega do Cantor “has known a significant evolution in terms of quality”, highlighted the regional director of Agriculture.

The change of winemaker contributed to this. Today, this "fundamental" task is under the responsibility of young Ruben Pinto. "It has nothing to do with what we used to do with what we do today", stressed Luísa Braziel.

The recipe, according to Ruben Pinto, is simple: «respect the raw material, try not to spoil what is good».

«The climate we've always had, there's always been a vineyard in the Algarve, but technology and winemakers made the Algarve's production take a leap», underlined Valadas Monteiro.

The 26-hectare farm where Adega do Cantor is located has the sea as its horizon, to the south. And this maritime influence has beneficial consequences both on the quality of the grape, and on the fact that the vines present fewer phytosanitary problems and, therefore, need much less treatment. Everything ends up being reflected in the quality and characteristics of the wine. “The proximity to the sea is very important and gives us a great deal of help”, stressed the director of the winery.



The Algarve has a market for its wine, as stated by Secretary of State Rui Martinho. "The demand here must be huge", he considered.

José Carlos Rolo, mayor of Albufeira, who accompanied the governor's visit, countered that, despite the evolution in recent years, "there is still the prejudice that Algarve wine is very strong", that is, very alcoholic.

But Sara Silva, president of the Algarve Wine Commission, explained that today, thanks mainly to the work of CVA and the producers, that image is fading. CVA, in fact, has organized numerous initiatives to promote Algarve wine, particularly in the region itself, especially in catering and hotels.

The new owner of Adega do Cantor does not intend to settle for wine alone. In addition to intending to expand the area of ​​the farm, to plant more vines, Joaquim Pires also plans to diversify, planting olive groves and orange groves, as well as investing in wine tourism and even tourist accommodation. “The idea is to create a rural area around the farm”, explained its director.

These plans are in line with what Pedro Valadas Monteiro defended: «viewing the vineyard as a wine production, but also as a way of diversifying the tourism sector, through wine tourism».


Tasting the «Congratulations/Infinito» sparkling wine

One of the serious problems these projects face is the cost of land. “The problem is that real estate speculation has also reached agricultural land. There are areas in the Algarve, such as Tavira, where the price per square meter of agricultural land is almost equal to that of building land. This is reaching stratospheric values», explained the regional director of Agriculture.

Sara Silva, president of the CVA, admitted: "one of the great concerns for those who want to settle in agriculture is the problem of the cost of land."

But then there is also the issue of labor, which, guaranteed Ruben Pinto, "has not to do with the amount paid, which is already quite high".

And the winemaker gives the example of this year's vintage, whose additional labor was provided by a temporary work company, as has happened in recent years. "We hired the teams for the harvest, everything was arranged, but the day before they contacted us to say that, after all, they weren't coming".

Now, the grapes have to be picked at the right time, a delay of one or two days can be detrimental to an entire campaign. Furthermore, “in terms of managing the reception of the grapes at the winery, there had to be great flexibility”, said Ruben Pinto.

An issue that also concerns both winemakers and policymakers is climate change and the availability of water. The changes, recalled Sara Silva, are already reflected at the time when the harvest is carried out in the Algarve. «Before it was mid-August, but it has been earlier and earlier. Now it takes place at the beginning of August or even at the end of July».

For the new owner of Adega do Cantor, making wine was “an old dream” that he has now achieved. Judging by the presentation that was made during the visit of the Secretary of State for Agriculture, plans and projects are not lacking by the Portuguese-French Joaquim Pinto.


Photos: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação