Passion, Vision and Energy – these are the ingredients that helped QUEVEDO to become a household name in the Port trade within 25 years. The company is bottling their own wines only since 1991- however, as so often with family companies in the wine trade, it all started so much earlier: the family had been growing grapes since 1889. Oscar Quevedo Sr., Oscar Quevedo Jr. and Claudia Quevedo built on this family legacy and achieved a really outstanding success within a few years, in an industry that is dominated by companies that are hundreds of years old.
When Oscar Quevedo Sr. founded the company in 1991, it was just the logical step for a process that took generations. From both of his parents side’s he was exposed to the wine of the Douro Valley. On his mother’s side, the roots are going back to the year 1889, when his great grandfather started to plant vines in Valongo dos Azeites, a small village south of São João de Pesqueira. They produced around 100 “pipas” of Port Wine – which was back then a very sizable amount (and still would be it today). They bottled their wine under the label ” Quinta de Santo António” (and sold also grapes to companies like Taylor’s and Barros). Finally his son Raúl Costa took over the company and turned out to be a successful businessman. Unfortunately the typical problem for family-companies struck again: The succession-planning. There was nobody willing or able to continue the family business when Raúl Costa died in 1960 and the company fell apart, his children sold their properties, no more wine was produced. Luckily the mother of Oscar Quevedo Sr. kept her vineyards – therefore laying the foundation to Oscar’s passion making wine. The family on Oscar Quevedo’s father’s side was also growing grapes – but they didn’t produce wine, but sold the grapes to shippers (Taylor’s). A small exception is the Colheita 1944 – when the family took advantage of a special approval by the Casa do Douro to produce Port (that year the grape harvest was plenty – and so the Casa do Douro made an exception and increased the allowed pipas of Port).
Oscar Quevedo Sr. studied law in Coimbra, where he met his wife Beatriz (who would later become a doctor). They moved to Viseu but continued to be always involved in the growing of grapes. In 1975 he was forced to make his first Port Wine. In the hectic times after the Revolution of 1974 there was a lot of confusion and uncertainty in the Port Wine industry – and Taylor’s decided that they wouldn’t buy any grapes in that year from the family. Oscar Quevedo Sr. produced therefore his own Port and also table wines – the family still has some of that old wine.
Things started to become much more seriously when the Quevedos bought the vineyard Quinta Vale D’Agodinho in 1983. They replanted it. It’s a prime location, close to the Cachão da Valeira, the famous and formerly very dangerous rock formation, where the Baron Forrester lost his life in 1861. It’s located on the south side of the Douro, near Quinta de Vargelas.
Oscar Quevedo Sr. had the vision to one day become a producer of Port Wine and to revive that family tradition. It was a blessing when Portugal entered the European Union – and suddenly growers could become bottlers and shippers. A winery was build in São João da Pesqueira (“Quinta da Senhora do Rosário“) and it was here where the family produced and bottled the first Port Wine in 1991.
The beautiful thing about QUEVEDO are not only the great wines – it’s also the closeness of the family. Claudia and Oscar Jr. support their father and practically run the company. Claudia knew from very early on that she would want to be involved in the wine making – she studied Enology in Vila Real and became the wine maker for Port and Douro wines for QUEVEDO. She is the reason for the high quality of the wines.
Her brother Oscar nearly missed the boat. He had studied economics and was working in the banking industry in Portugal, Switzerland and Spain. Luckily he returned in 2009 to the Douro (unfortunately due to a sad reason, he returned when his grandfather died), where he had grown up, and focused full-time on the family business. Oscar has a great gift – he connects extremely well with people. He is incredible well at everything around marketing – and he knows how to use the “social media” to create brand awareness for QUEVEDO. You can see his passion and energy in every interview he gives, in everything that he does.
One of the fascinating things about the Port trade is that most of the people are absolutely nice. Some are amazingly nice. And then there are the Quevedo’s. Even with everything that they have achieved – they have stayed so humble, so approachable, so friendly. The perfect ambassadors for the Port Wine trade, the perfect ambassadors for the Douro and for Portugal.
The siblings Oscar and Claudia are just the perfect team. Oscar likes to travel and to present their wines in the public spotlight, while Claudia prefers to stay close to her vines and grapes and to make the wines. That makes them such a strong team. Since 2013 the team is even stronger: QUEVEDO was able to hire Teresa Batista, who had been many years the wine maker at another Douro winery. Like Claudia, Teresa has also studied at Vila Real’s UTAD university and knows the Douro and it’s grapes and wines quite well. Teresa is focusing on the Douro Wines, while Claudia will continue to make the Port Wines. Other than making wine, Teresa is also in charge for the viticulture at Quinta da Alegria and Quinta das Mós. It’s a big advantage for QUEVEDO to have two winemakers, one for Port and one for Douro Wine. I can be wrong, but at the moment I’m not aware of any other company that has the luxury of having dedicated wine makers for these two different wine styles.
Quinta Vale d’Agodinho
Several vineyards contribute to the wines of QUEVEDO:
- Quinta Vale d’Agodinho – located in the valley of Ferradosa, in the Douro Superior, on the south side of the Douro river. It’s the flagship vineyard of QUEVEDO. It’s their “baby” – they planted this vineyard from scratch in 1983. The size is 20 hectares, the grapes are Touriga Franca (40%), Tinta Roriz (35%), Touriga Nacional (10%), Tinto Cão (10%) and Tinta Barroca (5%). The lowest point of the vineyard is 102 meters above sea-level, the highest point 265 meters. The grapes from this beautiful vineyard form the backbone of the QUEVEDO Vintage Ports. However, in years without a QUEVEDO Vintage Port we have seen already several times Single Vineyard ports that were launched with the name of the vineyard: “Quinta Vale d’Agodinho”. They are also used for the LBVs. Not all the grapes are used for the production of Port Wine – some of them are also finding the way into the red wine “Claudia’s”.
- Quinta da Trovisca: This vineyard has also approx. 20 hectares, but it’s way higher located than the Quinta Vale d’Agodinho. The lowest point is 498 meters above seal-level, the highest point is 602 meters high. In the lower points of the vineyard we find the “typical” red grape varieties: Tinta Roriz (12.5%), Touriga Franca (21.8%), Touriga Nacional (21.1%) and Sousão (7.6%). But we find also a grape that is not so common in the Douro: Syrah (4.5%). The higher parts of the vineyard are used for white grapes: Rabigato (16.3%), Gouveio (11.1%) and Viosinho (5.1%). The grapes from this vineyard are a good addition to the grapes from the lower lying Quinta Vale d’Agodinho. The red grapes from Trovisca give freshness and balance to the Vintage Ports and LBVs. We also find them in the Rose Ports and in red “Oscar’s” and “Claudia’s”. The white grapes are used for the white Ports and for “Oscar’s” white Douro Wine. A few hectares of this vineyard are also used for organic farming. QUEVEDO is bottling several of their entry-level Ports under the name “Quinta da Trovisca”.
- Quinta da Valeira: This is the newest addition to the portfolio of vineyards, bought in 2014. 27 hectares, altitude between 428 and 495 meters. This is one of the very, very few vineyards where Touriga Nacional (my favorite grape…) presents more than half of the total vines! 52% of the vineyard are planted with this special grape; the other grapes are the usual suspects: Touriga Franca (22%), Tinta Francisca (14%) and Sousão (12%). The grapes are earmarked to be used for the LBV production but also for the red “Oscar’s”. The vineyard is located on the south side of the Douro river, near the Valeira dam and the Cachão the Valeira, where Baron Forrester lost his life.
- Quinta da Sra. do Rosário – located in the eastern outskirts of S. João de Pesqueira. Here is where all the action happens – a part of this vineyard was used to build the winery, where QUEVEDO produces today all its wines. But the vineyard still exists – and from here come the grapes that are used for the Tawnies. This vineyard is the oldest planting in the QUEVEDO empire – the vines are approx. 50 years old. It’s a field blend, typical for back then: 35% Tinta Barroca, 25% Touriga Franca, 15% Tinta Amarela and 25% of other grape varieties. It a high plateau – 611 meters above sea-level. This is one of the very few vineyards in the Douro that are absolutely flat – which makes the care-taking and harvesting slightly easier.These are normally the grapes that are harvested as last. The winery itself is a modern looking building – even if built in 1991 – and the view from the winery over the vineyard is one of my favorite views in the Douro.
- Quinta da Alegria is located in the Cima Corgo, but north of the river. It’s one of the three vineyards in the Douro that have an own train station! Vargelas, Vesuvio and Alegria. Since many generations is this vineyard in the hand of Beatriz’ family – and it was replanted in the 1980s with Tinta Roriz, Tinta Amarela, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinto Cão. A part of the vineyard is planted with one of the more uncommon grapes, with Alicante Bouschet. Altogether the vineyard has a size of 28 hectares; the grapes are used for the Reserve Rubies and Tawnies.
- Quinta das Mós – this is the most Eastern vineyard of QUEVEDO, located in the Douro Superior, near the little village of Mós. The size is 20 hectares, the altitude between 100 and 243 meters. The grapes are Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Sousão and Tinta Barroca. This vineyard is located in the part of the Douro Valley that gets the lowest amount of rain (on average 300 mm per year), so the grapes are very concentrated – and need to be the first to be harvest, so that the vines don’t shut down due to the stress from the lack of water.
Now it’s time to speak about the wines from QUEVEDO.
Let’s start with the Port Wines. It’s not easy to make Tawnies so far east in the Douro Valley. The grapes are very concentrated – it takes a long time for the Tawnies to change their color. Even the Port Wine Institute sometimes get’s it wrong – a Tawny from Sao João de Pesqueira looks after 10 years in the barrel different from a Tawny in Mesão Frio… But QUEVEDO has proven that you can make nice Colheitas and Tawnies so far out towards the Douro Superior.
As an example I recommend the 1996 Colheita. This is a very interesting wine, the color is still very intense, but the aromas are already where you would a Colheita expect to be. 1996 wasn’t an easy year for Port – but this wine is really nice and very affordable. It’s ready for drinking. Like the 40 Year old Tawny – which would be my choice if money is not an issue. The 40 year old has amazing layers of aromas, nuts, crème brûlée, caramel, dates and apricot. A beautiful port – that you shouldn’t combine with any food. Enjoy it on it’s own. The year 2011 was an exceptional year for Port Wine, and only the next generation can judge if the hype around that year was for real or not. But so far, all the 2011 Port Wines I have had were amazing. That’s why I also would recommend the Vintage 2011 from QUEVEDO. However, as a cheaper alternative – please don’t overlook the LBV 2011. The 2011’s can be opened now – but in both cases, be it the Vintage or the Late Bottled Vintage, I would wait a few years… They are now showing an incredible fruitiness – but they will be so much more interesting in 15 years… However, it will not be easy to find this Vintage 2011, as only approx. 3,000 bottles were produced by QUEVEDO. However, the LBV 2011 is also outstanding, and 30,000 bottles were produced. You can find the LBV for less than 20 Euros – which is a real bargain for such a great bottle.
Looking at the still wines, we see two brands: Oscar’s and Claudia’s. Both are well made wines, perfect for the normal day-to-day-needs. They wines don’t pretend to be something for the eternity. Solid wines, very reasonably priced, good value for the money. They show the quality of the Douro, the minerality – and also the spirit of Oscar and Claudia. Oscar admits that this is a wine for the young generation, a wine that sells through social media. It’s a perfect reflection of his personality. Claudia comes along a little bit more sophisticated, but in the end also this wine is just supposed to be fun – and it’s expected that the wines change from year to year. It’s not that the wine maker (which was Claudia in the past and is now Teresa) tries to force the wine every single year into a specific aroma – the grapes are different in every year, and this shall be “visible” in the wine. I like these wines and had them many times.
Always expect the unexpected from QUEVEDO. In a good way. It’s a family with very deep roots in the Douro, generations have grown grapes and made wines. This family honors old traditions. And maybe because of those old traditions they seem to be a very innovative Port Wine producer. They go where few Port Wine companies are going currently and they revive old products – and they do that very well. As an example I would like to mention the CRUSTED PORT. A Crusted Port is a blended wine of very high quality Port from 2 or 3 different years, that has spend only a short time in the barrel and was then blended and bottled. It’s not filtered, it’s not fined; it will develop in the bottle and by doing so, it will create a crust in the bottle – and that’s where the name “Crusted Port” comes from.Only very few companies produce a Crusted Port (DOW, Graham, Fonseca, Niepoort and Churchill) – so QUEVEDO is joining a very exclusive club. Only 1,500 bottles were produced, and after being stored three years after bottling in 2012 they are now slowly reaching the market.
Currently NIEPOORT is the only house that is making GARRAFEIRA style Port – but I wouldn’t be surprised if QUEVEDO would join them also in a few decades with their own Garrafeira Ports (it really takes a long time to make Garrafeira Port).
Another example for the entrepreneur spirit of the company is the lodge of QUEVEDO in GAIA. While many of the big established Port Wine companies from Gaia start to see the Douro as a business opportunity and open visitor’s centers over there (like DOW with the QUINTA DO BOMFIM or Croft with the QUINTA DA ROÊDA), QUEVEDO did go the opposite way – they opened a visitor’s lodge in Gaia. Contrary to most lodges in Gaia, no wine is stored and aged in the lodge – it’s just a way to create brand recognition and to sell great wines to happy tourists. And while many lodges are like cathedrals and you can hear the echo of your steps and you can hear the dust falling down, the QUEVEDO lodge is loud and lively… Beautiful live-music; clapping hands, happy people and Port Wine… what a nice combination! QUEVEDO has definitely done it’s part to rejuvenate the Port Wine industry.
This company has come a long way in the last 25 years – and I’m sure that the next 25 years will be even more interesting!
Address: Quinta da Sra. do Rosário, 5130-321 S. João da Pesqueira, Portugal
Phone: (+351) 254 484 323