In 2011 I returned to the same winery where in 1987 I worked my first harvest, a small winery located in the village of Vermiosa, between the cold and in the highest vineyards in Portugal. I rehabilitated the property, because I believed that this region's winemaking heritage is one of the most hidden treasures of Portuguese wines: old vines of native grape varieties perfectly adapted to the rugged climate caused by the high altitude, along with the soil, where many veins of quartz run through the schist and granite. Through Beyra wines, I seek the Beira Interior's identity: wines of great complexity resulting from the combination of aromatic intensity, minerality and freshness.
The climate is seriously continental, hot and dry in summer, but with very cold, long winters. In the summer and autumn heat, alcohol levels can shoot up before tannins are fully ripened, but with care and skill, good, balanced wines can be made.
Ripening is easier in the southern sub-region, Cova da Beira, whose exclusive local white grape, Fonte Cal, can make rich, honeyed wines with steely acidity. Other white varieties include Arinto, Malvasia Fina, Rabo de Ovelha and Síria.
The main red varieties are Bastardo, Marufo, Rufete, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional. Many vines are old—a plus for quality, meaning small yields and potentially greater concentration in the grapes.