This is perhaps the most important aspect of all. It is in the vines where it all happens, this is where the wine is born, and that is the reason why at Ribafreixo Wines we dedicate ourselves to the sustainable planning of the vineyards at our estate. Ribafreixo Wine’s 114 hectares of vineyards are part of the Vidigueira Sub-region, an area whose specific characteristics provide the ideal conditions to produce wines that are unique to this region: perfect sun exposure, warm and dry in the summer, tempered by a fresh breeze from the Atlantic. This microclimate combined with our estate’s schist soil, brings forth a common thread in all our wines, which is their freshness as well as their mineral notes.
These factors are further aided by our drip irrigation system, which ensures the health and sustainability of the vines. Our closeness (8kms) to the Alqueva dam – which created a 100 square mile lake and almost 700 miles of shore, making it Europe’s largest artificial lake – enables us to use a watering system fed by the Alvito/Pisão subsidiary dam. We also had to build a drainage system to make up for the terrain’s lack of inclination in certain areas of the vineyard, to ensure the vines are not affected by wetness in times of heavy rain.
At present, our vineyards have the following grape varietals typical of the Alentejo: Whites: Antão Vaz, Arinto, Verdelho, Síria, Alvarinho as well as Chenin Blanc. Reds: Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional, Aragonez, Alfrocheiro and Tinta Miuda.
At Ribafreixo Wines our concern with sustainability and with the ecological/environmental footprint already starts with the vines and the work in the field. We take pride in our 100% integrated production, an ‘alternative’ approach halfway between traditional and biological farming, as the latter is not a feasible option due to the extension of our vineyards. Implementing integrated production and the resulting need for us to adhere strictly to all the best farming practices, allows us to contribute significantly to a more sustainable agriculture. Numerous practices in our day-to-day work are based on the core principles of integrated production: from using cutting-edge farming technology in order to avoid any impact on the ecosystem, natural resources or components involved in natural regulation; covering crops between rows to protect and improve the soil in order to stop evaporation and thereby reduce water consumption and the need for irrigation, but also protecting animals living in the soil that help to fight pests in a natural and efficient way, enabling us to minimise the use of chemicals and pesticides. Drip irrigation allows us to ration precious water; restricted application of certified phytopharmaceuticals as well as citrus-based ones in order to minimise any possible impact on the soil and maximise pest control, while assuring proven harmlessness for humans; application of hormones to eradicate moths that affect the quality of the wine significantly if unchecked. This technique took years to take effect as it causes male moths to become unable to identify females, so that they simply die out after some time. Reducing their numbers enabled us to reduce our own usage of pesticides, and this year 2015/2016 no moths were found in our vineyard, even though no pesticides were used. These are but a few examples of the care and dedication that the integrated production method requires every day.
So all in all we are friends of the earth aiming to raise the bar as a company that combines a profitability and quality based business view, with a substantial element of sustainability focused on respect for the environment, biodiversity and the ecosystem. In the end, the most important result reaches our winery – healthier and more wholesome grapes, a factor that weighs in decisively (at about 80%) on the quality of our wines.