The cool, Atlantic climate sweeps across our eclectic patchwork of calcareous clay slopes with our vineyard enveloping different aspects, valleys, peaks and ridges. The result? Fresh, elegant and ageworthy wines with varying personalities.
Nestled among the hills between 85 and 130 metres above sea level, just 12km from the wild Atlantic coastline, Quinta de Sant’Ana is blessed with a unique micro-climate of cool nights, cloudy, misty mornings and sunny afternoons. Summer temperatures rarely reach 35ºC. Winters are generally mild, between 0ºC and 20ºC, often with nightly ground frosts and rainfall is high between November and February.
The soils are predominantly calcareous clay, deep and humid at the foot of the slopes. This is where you find the white vines, the resulting grapes convert into wines with remarkable freshness and minerality, matching the soil. The reds are planted on the steep upper slopes with shallower topsoil which becomes baked in the summer, the hydric stress and extra sun exposure is essential for ripening grapes in the Atlantic climate.
The landscape is a picturesque central winding valley curving its way up hill with small vineyards on either side, each vineyard with different sun orientation, different soils, the makeup is complex requiring special treatment for each parcel; precision viticulture at its extreme. The same applies for harvest time when António and I walk the vineyards tasting the grapes waiting for perfect ripeness, probably the most important procedure of all.
During harvest James walks ahead of the pickers, marking the areas of the vineyard to pick, sometimes carving one vineyard into as many as four different zones. This allows us to make special editions of wines in small quantities, sometimes just enough grapes to fill two barrels that may be bottled on its own or blended with one barrel from another vineyard or vintage. It is this precision that makes our wines unique allowing us to make special releases in outstanding years.
Living on site is fundamental for us! We get to know the vines and the weather patterns and warnings intimately, and over the years have learnt the best times to treat, to prune, to thin, to leaf pull – and in so doing mitigate the effects of spring hail, intense sun and prolonged rainfall. It’s still a risky business and such hard work sometimes, but we wouldn’t have it any other way!