In 1974, the year of Portugal’s Carnation Revolution, João António Cerdeira and his wife Palmira became the first people to plant Alvarinho grapes in Melgaço, in the northernmost part of the country’s Vinho Verde region. Originally working from his family’s garage (in place of their old red Ford Estate), João produced wines under the Soalheiro name from 1982, including a pioneering sparkling Alvarinho in 1995. Championing this white grape has become Soalheiro’s modus operandi and its wines are globally recognized for their brightness and intensity.
Today, the estate is run by João’s children (with a little help from their mother), who have modernized the winery to make it as eco-friendly as possible and instigated an Innovation Room for thinking up fresh ideas – an initiative lauded by the Portuguese President. Producing wine, spirits, herbal teas, cured meats, organic vegetables and more, a visit to Soalheiro is a total immersion in the delights of the Minho valley.
Soalheiro owns 14 hectares of organically farmed vineyards and works with a ‘club’ of some 150 grower families who supply grapes from their best plots. The wines are made as naturally as possible, with no filtration and minimal use of sulphites. Alvarinho is the star and comes in all forms including still, sparkling and even grappa.