THE PAST ARRIVES TO THE PRESENT, BOTTLED.
The wine tradition in the Setúbal Peninsula has existed for many years. And it is all this past that is tasted, today, in each bottle.
Tartessos and Phoenicians. It is estimated that the vineyard culture was introduced in the region – Vale do Sado – by the Tartessos, around 2000 B.C., and that the wine was produced and used for commercial purposes. Around 1000 B.C., Setúbal was founded by the Phoenicians. In archaeological excavations carried out in the Setúbal Peninsula, grains dating from the 8th century BC were found, a fact that highlights the antiquity of the vine culture in the region, which dates back much before the formation of Portugal.
Greeks. In the 7th century B.C., the Greeks gave a strong contribute to the development and improvement of the region´s viticulture and wine production. Their presence is documented in beautiful ceramic vessels found in the Alcácer do Sal region, which attest to the high level of this civilization. The definitive occupation of the Peninsula in 19 B.C. and the progressive Romanization led to a significant increase of the vineyard culture, both in variety and technical refinement.
Muslims. With the Muslim occupation, in the 8th century, a new cycle in the vineyards culture and wine production begins. Although the Quran expressly forbids the consumption of alcoholic beverages, the local authorities have shown themselves to be complacent towards Christians, authorizing the wine production and trade.
Middle Ages. In the 12th century, following the establishment of the Order of Santiago and the Christian reconquest of strategic points such as Almada and Palmela, conditions arose for the repopulation of the Setúbal Peninsula region and, simultaneously, for the local relaunch of wine activities. During the Low Middle Ages, between the 12th and 15th centuries, wine was one of the main exports of the Setúbal Peninsula, stimulated by technological advances introduced by religious orders.
Discoveries. The Age of Discoveries corresponded to the period of overseas expansion that began in the 15th century and extended into the 16th. In this period, Portugal became one of the most important economic powers, extending its Empire to four continents.
19th century. In the 19th century, many figures contributed for the regional identity and advancement of the agricultural economy. José Maria da Fonseca was one of those personalities when he settled in Vila Nogueira de Azeitão and founded his wine company, projecting the fame and prestige of Moscatel de Setúbal. In addition to the generous Moscatel de Setúbal, in 1850, José Maria da Fonseca created the Periquita wine, a red wine that today enjoys the greatest international reputation. The name Periquita came from the property where the oldest Portuguese table wine was to be produced: Cova da Periquita, and its name is glued to the company’s own history and its original grape, Castelão. This wine exports date back to 1881, and the first international prize in 1888, at the exhibition of Portuguese wines, in Berlin. José Maria dos Santos is another essential figure in the history of the Setúbal Peninsula agriculture, where he installed, in the area of Pinhal Novo (Herdade de Rio Frio), a true «wine world». He became known as the owner of the largest continuous vineyard in the world. With an area of 4000 hectares and more than 12 million strains, between Poceirão, Rio Frio and Valdera, he reached a total annual production of 30 thousand wine barrels.