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 begins with the vineyard 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 and size 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 and its components involved in a natural rejuvenation; the grassing and seeding between vine 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 animal life (mostly insects) living in the soil that help to fight pests (almost like a vaccine) in a natural and efficient way, enabling us to minimise the use of chemicals and pesticides. Drip irrigation allows us to save precious water; restricted application of certified phytopharmaceuticals as well as human friendly citrus-based pesticides minimise the impact on the soil and maximise pest control, while assuring proven harmlessness to humans, as well as the application of pheromones to eradicate moths that greatly affect the quality of the grapes. This technique took years to take effect, as it causes male moths to become unable to identify females, simply extinguishing themselves after some time and therefore enabling the reduction of pesticides. Since 2016 no moths have been found in our vineyard, enabling us to stop the use of pesticides to control this pest. These are just a few examples of what is required to implement integrated production.
So above all we are friends of the earth aiming to raise the bar as a company that integrates its profitability, quality and business practices with a substantial element of environmental sustainability and biodiversity in the ecosystem. In the end, the most important result is the healthy and wholesome grapes that enter the door of our winery at harvest time, a condition that weighs in decisively (about 80%) in the production of premium quality wines.