Typically Graham’s have a roga, or gang, of 20 to 25 people, who pick for us at either Quinta dos Malvedos or at Quinta do Tua. Yesterday they were picking the vinha velha, an old vineyard containing a mixture of grape varieties, at Tua. Many of the group have been picking for us for years, and these experienced pickers are one key to the quality of Graham’s wines, as even in the vineyard they can start the selection process for us, discarding unripe or damaged grapes.
The vines are now over 35 years old, and produce a low yield of grapes, less than one kilo per vine, which produce wines with incredibly concentrated flavours and fine tannic structure, ideal for vintage ports. Whilst the quinta and winery face west onto the Rio Tua, the vineyards wrap around the hill behind the house and almost all face south over the Douro. The consistent climactic conditions of this part of the region combined with the south facing aspect of this particular quinta means we can count on high quality wines in most years.
As it happens, immediately adjacent to one of the oldest vineyards at Tua is one of the newest, a plantation of Souzão made just this past winter. With no significant rain since June, we have had to manually irrigate this vineyard six times this summer to ensure its future. Graham’s acquired the property in 2006 and after a couple seasons of careful assessment, we have begun a replanting program in selected parcels, whilst carefully guarding the fine old vines that bring so much character to our ports.