Colares finds a new fan base

To plant vines in Colares, a deep and dangerous trench must be dug. And that’s only the start of the challenges, as Simon J. Woolf reports.

Adega Viúva Gomes, photo by José Sarmento Matos
Adega Viúva Gomes, photo by José Sarmento Matos

It’s July 2019 and labelling is in full swing at Adega Viúva Gomes, a winery in the tiny coastal wine region of Colares, Portugal. But the lovingly hand-glued labels aren’t printed with the year 2018 or even 2008. Viúva Gomes is preparing small lots of 1967, 1965 and 1934 for sale. Colares’ wines may be formidable in their ability to age and endure, yet the region itself has shown rather less resilience. 

The 1,800-plus hectares of vines that existed in the 1930s now number a mere 26. The ravages of fashion, soaring real-estate values and Eurocratic madness almost razed the vineyards to nothing. Yet just after it hit its lowest ebb, Colares appears to be finding a new and growing fan base. Have reports of the region’s death been exaggerated?

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