Necklaces, a preserved heritage

Founded in 1931, Adega Regional de Colares emerged to defend and preserve the genuineness of colares wines that, in the account of the fame they had achieved, were often adulterated and sold by little serious producers. In the 19th century, the vineyard area surrounding the village of Colares reached 2000 hectares. Today, there are just over twenty hectares. Were it not for the effort swine of the Regional Winery of Colares and that of new producers that have since emerged in the region, the wine of Colares would be completely forgotten.

The Denomination of Origin Colares is located between the Serra de Sintra and the Atlantic, bringing together the parishes of Colares, São Martinho and São João das Lampas. There are no records of when the first vineyards were planted, but the oldest reference is part of the Charter Foral de Sintra and dates from 1154.

Although referenced over the centuries, Colares grew decisively in fame and value from 1865, when the national vineyards were devastated by phylloxera, a disease that hit the whole of Europe, except Colares, due to the sandy conditions of the land where the dhimable insect could not penetrate, since it could not reach the deep roots of the plant. This is how the wine of the region imposes itself, becoming the main national table wine, mentioned several times in important studies of national viticulture and even in our literature, in particular, in the Queirosian work.

Adega de Colares was set in August 1931, in an imposing building built at the end of the 19th century, with 81 members, wine advocates of the region. Ten years later, the winery also had the power to certify the wines of the region. With consumption increasing due to the colony market, the winery produced one million liters at the end of the 1960s. This loose period prevailed until the cut in exports caused by the Overseas War, which eventually installed a new crisis.

so the cellar has experienced ups and downs, but has managed to keep up and survive the difficulties. And from 1994 new projects began to be put into practice, such as the bet on the creation of own brands, one of the most significant investments, which has breathed new breath and a new response to the market. Currently, the winery has the brands Arenae - DOC Colares (white and red, from sandy soils), Strip-Edric Floor (white and red, wines from non-sandy soils), and O Saloio - Mesa wine (white and red, unpretentious wines, available in bottle or bottle). However, much of the flow continues to be done through bottlercompanies in the region, which buy wine from the winery and sell it through their brands.

In 1995, the recognition of Sintra as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO gave new encouragement to the wine of Colares, bringing visitors to the region who are curious and interested in knowing its wines. Currently, the winery brings together more than fifty percent of the region's production and more than ninety percent of producers.

Going to the cellar of Colares today is like going into a time tunnel. The space remains almost the same as the time it was built, being well preserved and prepared to receive visitors. Its wine tourism offer is not very varied, but this does not prevent the winery from receiving people who purposely move there to know its emblematic history. Thus, visitors can take part in guided tours of the winery and vineyards of its members, as well as make wine tastings.There are also those who rent the main nave from the cellar for parties, meetings and wine tastings.

Necklaces, a traditional wine

The traditional Colares is produced in a strip exposed to the sea, which is located north of Sintra, in sandy soils. It is, moreover, this characteristic that contributed to the marked difference in the Colares, because it prevented the proliferation of phylloxera that devastated European viticulture in the 19th century, causing enormous damage and profound changes.

The Sand-ground Necklace Ramisco therefore remains a free-standing wine, obtained from a 100% European plant. But their planting requires enormous effort, given the depth to which the bacelos often have to be put or 'unhar'.

In a 1938 publication of the Adega Regional de Colares, entitled "The Wine of Necklaces", the plantation is described as follows: at the bottom of the open ditches "they were on a parallelogram-shaped surface, occupying only 2 square meters, 30 bacilli of the Ramisco variety. These bacilli, which have a length of 3 to 5 meters, give a certain divergent inclination of the center. Buried these bacilli, about 25 centimeters (...) the pit or ditch shall be filled, up to a certain extent, with sandy ground, and the eyes must be filled only above the surface, so that when the buttons already give lateral branches, the leveling is made, for the ground to return to its primitive position'.

The conduct of the vineyard will also be conditioned according to the planting site and its maritime exposure. Plants have to be conducted in low forms, with protections that prevent the nefarious effect of salty sea winds. Traditionally, each strain develops a varied set of sticks of great length, forming what is called the rastrões, from which originate the grape-producing rods, called the sovereigns. These shaves are left on the sand in order to guarantee them greater protection, enhanced with the construction of palisades or cane shelters, urge or bush. The most important shelters are those that run along the shoreline, are the most resistant and are called master shelters. They are complemented by others that develop perpendicularly and are called 'travessenhos'. When the maturation approaches, the rumbs and sovereigns are slightly lifted from the ground with the help of small canes of 20 to 30 centimeters, the pontoons, thus preventing the grape from being damaged by the excessive temperature of the sand at certain times, and facilitating the maturation process.

Planting of strains
Construction of palisades or cane shelters, urge or bush to protect strains from wind

All this has also become an increased difficulty for the viticulture of Colares, both for the demands of labor and for the cost. These difficulties have often led to adulteration stemming from the mixture of sand-ground wine with lower quality hard-ground wine, or the addition of brandy to increase the poor alcohol content of the wines. This too has contributed to the decline of the Necklaces.

The efforts that have been made, over time, to keep this wine full of history are varied. And it's worth it, for the difference, originality, rarity and quality.

According to the renowned agronoim and researcher Cincinnato da Costa (1900), the Casta Ramisco , which gives soul to this wine, is "a variety of the most remarkable ink in Portugal, for the taste and perfume very pleasant that it imprints on the wines it originates", and adds: "Freshness, grace, perfume, flavor, delicacy, softness, nothing they lack, when derived from good mining, to be completed wines".

Production conditions make achieving a maturation balance often difficult to achieve. In addition to some sensitivity to diseases such as mildew and odium, Ramisco plants originate grapes with normally low alcohol contents, between ten and a half to twelve percent volume, high acidity and great tanninity, which prevents their consumption with pleasure as young people, requiring a long maturation. The stains are not normally intense, the aromas can initially remember wildberries and some resin. In the mouth are fresh wines and strong adstringência.

Undoubtedly, a sensory experience that all wine lovers of the world must live.

Old Photographs: Cellar Archive of Necklaces (early twentieth century photos)

Current photos: Pedro Bettencourt