Aveleda SA - A family passion applied to wine

Guedes Family / Credits: Aveleda SA
Guedes Family / Credits: Aveleda SA

Successive generations of the same family are at the heart of Aveleda, along with architectural follies and vineyards kept in such striking condition that they inspired the travellers who saw them.

 

Every family business has its founder: The man or woman who produced and sold the very first bottles of its wine. In the case of Aveleda, those initial steps were taken way back in the late 1800s, when Manoel Pedro Guedes de Silva da Fonseca, tired of living in Lisbon decided to move back to the Aveleda estate that had been in his family since 1671. Situated in Penafiel, in part of the country now known as Vinho Verde, it was, as the name suggests, an ideal place to produce fresh, characterful wines. Manoel da Fonseca devoted his life to the wine business, preparing the land, buying and planting vines, and building a cellar with a capacity for what was then a huge volume of 300 barrels. The earliest sale of Aveleda wines for which records still exist was in 1870 and the first evidence of their quality is provided by the gold medals they won in international competitions in Berlin in 1888, and Paris the following year.

The estate passed from Manoel Pedro Guedes de Silva da Fonseca to his son, Fernando Guedes, who further developed the wine business, including launching Casal Garcia in 1939, one of the world’s first successful wine brands. The story of Casal Garcia, which has just celebrated its 75th anniversary, reveals an openness of mind on the part of the Guedes family that was rare at the time. That year, an eminent French oenologist called Eugène Hélisse, who had been working on a Port vintage in the Douro, was particularly struck by the Quinta da Aveleda vineyards that he saw through the window of his train on the way back to Oporto. What he noticed was the care that had been taken of the land and the efforts that had been given to separating the vines by grape variety, as was then common in France, but not in Portugal.

Eugène Hélisse persuaded the Guedes family to let him help with the vinification of that harvest and the innovative methods he introduced helped to produce a fresher, fruitier, finer white wine than any that had even been seen at the estate. This became the first vintage of Casal Garcia.

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On Fernando Guedes’s death in 1946, management of the estate passed to his son Roberto, who had long taken an interest in winemaking and had begun to work with his father as soon as he finished his military service.

Today, the Aveleda business is in the hands of the fifth generation of the Guedes family, with António Azevedo Guedes acting as CEO and Martim Guedes as Managing Director. Important investments were made in the vines, equipments and human resources in order to produce wines with the best quality. Echoing the openness of their ancestor, the current members of the family turned to a Frenchman, Denis Dubourdieu, one of the world’s top wine experts, for winemaking advice, and were gratified to see the 2013 Quinta da Aveleda distinguished as #1 of the 2014 Best Buys ranking by the Wine Enthusiast magazine.

While Quinta da Aveleda and Casal Garcia Vinho Verde are among the company’s best-known wines, a broad range is produced on the estate and from its vineyards in other wine regions. So anyone wanting to compare a Vinho Verde made from a blend of grapes with one produced exclusively from the Alvarinho can try one, while expansion into other regions of Portugal enable Aveleda to offer wines from areas such as the Douro and Bairrada, as well as its homeland of Vinho Verde.

The architectural follies, and the award-winning gardens (distinguished with the International Award Best of Wine Tourism) in which they stand, contribute to make the Quinta da Aveleda one of the most beautiful and renowned tourist attractions in Portugal. Visitors to the cellars are invited to see every aspect of the winemaking process, including the final bottling and labelling, and to taste the wines and cheese produced at the state. But the cheese and wine are only part of the appeal of a visit to Quinta da Aveleda. Among the romantic buildings they can visit there are the Manuelino-style Window (a National Monument), the Tea House and the Four Sisters Fountain. They can see the old coach house and the kitchen where the old equipment has been lovingly preserved. Wandering through these buildings and gardens it is very easy to see what seduced Manoel Pedro Guedes de Silva da Fonseca back from the city over two centuries ago.

Aveleda, SA

Rua da Aveleda, nº2
4560-570 Penafiel - Portugal
T +351 255 718 200
F +351 255 711 139
www.aveleda.pt

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