Harvest season is about to start in São Miguel island and the predictions are that grape harvest and wine production of “vinho de cheiro” will be “slightly better” than last year. Who says it is Nuno Rainha, son of the owner and wine producer in Vila Franca do Campo. Manuel Rainha, a company with more than 30 years of business. “Last year we received about 80 tonnes of grapes and, this year, we expect to reach 100 tonnes”, reveals to Diário dos Açores. Comparing to 2017, this year’s production could be “slightly better”. This number is just an estimation, based on what the producers say they have on their lands, since their winery hasn’t started receiving grapes. Only at the end of September will be possible to do the math and the production’s balance. “Most producers say the bunches are bigger and that they have more grapes on their lands, which makes us believe that production will increase this year. However, bad weather (rain and strong winds) and plagues can jeopardize a year’s work. So, it’s complicated to give exact numbers”, explains Nuno Rainha, to our newspaper, adding that the predictions are good. “Some producers say they have twice the grapes of last year, others say they have almost the same amount. Besides, the weather was good this season, even better than past years. So, we except this year will be better”, he says. “Uva de cheiro” disinvestment through the years According to numbers of 2014, Manuel Rainha produced 152 thousand kilos of grapes, as in 2015 the production was of 133 thousand kilos. In 2016, production increased to 100 tonnes and, last year, dropped to 80 tonnes. This massive fall is due to a “disinvestment from produces”. “It’s a continuous disinvestment, that has been lasting for the 10 past years, because there’s no support from the government. There is a all group of situations, like real state speculation, that subsidized activities like farming and banana production, which led to the current state of things”, he affirms. In 2016, on an interview given to Diário dos Açores, Nuno Rainha said exactly the same and pointed out several reasons that led to the decreasing of the production of the “uva de cheiro”, but still much alive in Vila Franca do Campo. “The first reason as to do with propaganda from the regional government to eradicate this type of grape. This propaganda, supported by the European community, aimed to eradicate the american grape variety ‘Vitis Labrusca’. From a European point of view, this grape variety is of poor quality and was put on “the black list”. There’s a regional law that prohibits the exportation of this wine to Europe, so it can only be purchased here. So, that restrings us a lot, since we cannot sell outside the region”, he said. The second reason “is the fact the that this wine is know as the people’s wine or the wine of the poor. When national brands get in the picture, with more appealing design and packaging, at competitive prices, people tend to choose national products, if only for the experience”. “Futhermore, for the last 10 or 12 years, there has been a lot of real estate speculation about the lands where the vineyard were. The vineyards gave way to apartments and supermarkets. The best area to cultivate grapes in Vila Franco do Campo is now a residential park. I’m talking about the area where is the complex of houses of Ilhéu and the SolMar supermarket. In that whole area there was vineyards and even in the hillside behind the industrial park of Vila Franca do Campo”, he said. Manuel Rainha remembered the prime days of production of “vinho de cheiro”: “back in 2001 we produced almost 1 million liters of wine in this winery, almost 1800 wine barrels. And now, 2016, we will produce about 70 thousand liters. It’s a massive fall”, said. Two years later, the same situation remains, since this culture is “completely ignored by the European community. “Even this week, we sent a pack of vinho abafado, produced with uva de cheiro, to the United States… and the client has high expectations, because it’s a unique product with very distinct characteristics, in comparison to what is available there. How is even possible that we have to look to other markets, as we cannot export to the mainland or Europe. We are very limited to work with this variety of grape (american varity ‘Vitis Labrusca’)”, he regrets. Even though has been an increase of tourists in São Miguel island and, in consequence, and increase of sales of local products, they don’t buy “vinho de cheiro”. Nuno Rainha warns that this wine is still not appreciated. Tourism hasn’t valued this culture and we cannot think that, even if there’s more people at restaurants and hotels, will be more demand for vinho de cheiro, because it’s a distinct product”, he says. “We, local producers, only have a small niche, to whom we can sell to. The reality is not the same as for other regional wines, like in Pico, for example”, points out. There aren’t any financial supports: “What happens is, even if we try to find help, there’s always some type of limitations related to this wine, imposed by the European Union”, highlights the producer. “ “There’s a lot of propaganda around the wine produced with grapes from Azores, like in Pico, however ours can’t be certified or valued, even though our product is produced here in Azores. They recognized that there is a big production of this type of grape and wine, but there’s not much the local institutions can do…”, he explained. We asked him if he thinks the production of this wine will come to an end, Nuno Rainha says no, “but will, probably, over the years, decrease significantly”. According to him, what might happen in the future is that this industry will “get tired of working with this product”. “Some small producers might even produce the wine only for family and friends”, admits. “Perhaps it will turn into a ‘forbidden fruit’: today it doesn’t have much value, but in ten years, it might be on demand and be worth more”. Alexandra Narciso in Correio dos Açores
You are not old enough to consult this site ...
Are you of legal drinking age in your country of origin?
To change location you will need to clear the products from your cart.