Casa Ferreirinha

When speaking about the Douro there are names that stand out and that of Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira, affectionately known as “Ferreirinha” or “Ferreirinha-da-Régua” in her hometown, is one of them. The activities of the Ferreiras of Régua started in the mid-18th century with Bernardo Ferreira, Dona Antónia’s grandfather. The company’s foundations, however, would stem from the actions of José Bernardo and António Bernardo. But it was the marriage of their descendants, the cousins António Bernardo and Dona Antónia Adelaide, that would shape the company’s future.

But it was only after the death of her first husband that this lady’s enterprising spirit manifested itself in an extraordinary way, carrying out extensive plantings in the Douro, as well as works of improvement, and thus becoming a foremost figure.

With Dona Antónia’s death the company became a partnership and a new adjustment to the evolution of the market got under way. Its quality roots were, however, maintained, through its unique assets – its estates in the Douro (Quinta do Porto, Seixo, Caedo and Leda) – supported by the best oenological methods and producing fine wines under a strong brand.

These values have brought CASA FERREIRINHA along to the present day and were essential in the continued production and creation of the brand’s great wines, as well as in the amassing of a unique heritage and an unparalleled historical archive.

Likewise, a deep knowledge of Douro Superior, of the characteristics of its climate and soil, as well as a careful variety selection, proved essential to the company’s strategy. This strategy, supported by a presence of 250 years in the Region, led CASA FERREIRINHA to purchase Quinta da Leda, at Almendra, Vila Nova de Foz Côa, in 1978.

From the grapes produced at those vineyards, of a quality which exceeded the most optimistic expectations, subjected to the best oenology and know-how, comes the basis for CASA FERREIRINHA'S top-market wines, such as the prestigious Barca Velha and Reserva Ferreirinha, as well as the more recent Quinta da Leda and Callabriga.

This sound background allowed CASA FERREIRINHA to extend its portfolio to several market segments. The brand also markets Vinha Grande and Esteva, which are equally references in their respective categories.
Barca Velha is CASA FERREIRINHA'S standard-bearer. Created in 1952, the brand became part of the history of Portuguese wines as the first high-quality table wine.

Created in 1952 and inspired by the grapes used in the production of the company’s great Vintage ports, Barca Velha was the brainchild of Fernando Nicolau de Almeida, whose purpose was to begin producing high-quality table wines from the Douro Region. Casa Ferreirinha thus became the first port wine company to produce quality table wines in the region. This was to shape in a significant way the future of Portuguese wines.

The main technical questions facing Fernando Nicolau de Almeida were connected with maturation balance/natural acidity in port grapes and with fermentation control, especially as far as temperature was concerned, so as to achieve the desired quality.

With regard to maturation/acidity, after numerous studies the solution was found in grape blends of the same varieties produced in Douro Superior at different altitudes, in percentages suited to the quality/maturation of each vintage.

Fermentation control was assured using a French technology, i.e., pumping-over in vats, wooden ones at the time. Temperature control was achieved through the use of ice, as a means of ensuring alcoholic fermentation at the required temperatures (28 to 30 º C).

After various studies and tests, the first Barca Velha to be marketed came from the 1952 vintage. From its launch the company has followed a strategy through which only top-quality vintages are selected for producing this wine.

In 1962 the Reserva Ferreirinha brand was created, for vintages with a different quality from those of Barca Velha. The quest for the highest quality and excellence explains why through a period of five decades only a few Barca Velha harvests have been made: 1952, 1954, 1957, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1978, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1991, 1995, 1999, 2000 and, the most recent, 2004.

It is important to stress that in 40 years of history Barca Velha has known only two Technical Mangers/Oenologists, which ensures it a consistency of style unequalled in the market.




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