Herdade do Esporão: From Past to Present

Herdade do Esporão: From Past to Present

Herdade do Esporão is our original homestead: where everything started, and where the sun has continued to set with the same beauty for the past 750 years.
Among soft plains, deep valleys carved by recurrent streams, wheat fields, vineyards, and olive groves, is where we find Herdade do Esporão. It is a classic portrait of the Alentejo, not far from Lisbon and next door to the historic city of Reguengos de Monsaraz, where the hills and white-washed houses mark the landscape and hold within them the memory of a Prehistoric existence. Neolithic tombs and dolmen, ancient Iberians, Romans, Visigoths, Muslims and so many others have passed through here and left their mark. Wars and battles were fought here throughout medieval times, until the Christian reconquest of Monsaraz and the town center of Reguengos in 1232. Since then, wine and olive oil have become the hallmarks and ambassadors of the region all around the world.
In 1267, the geographical limits of Herdade do Esporão (originally named Defesa do Esporão) were definitively drawn, and remain practically unaltered until today.
Soeiro Rodrigues, the city judge of Évora, may have been one of the first owners of the property, followed by the Master of Santiago Rodrigues de Vasconcelos, Morgado D. Álvaro Mendes de Vasconcelos, and the counts of Alcáçovas.
During this time, three historic monuments were erected in the center of Herdade do Esporão: the Tower of Esporão, a symbol of societal affirmation and a demonstration of military power, which is one of the most prominent testimonies of Portugal’s transition from the Middle Ages to modern times; the Arch of Esporão; and the Hermitage of Our Lady of Remedies, which is linked to a group of intense and devout worshipers in the neighboring village, Perolivas, who travel in procession to the monument whenever there is a period of drought.
In 1973, José Roquette, the current land owner, and Joaquim Bandeira purchased Herdade do Esporão and together they began a story that is still being written today. Two years later, their first harvest gave birth to the Esporão brand and our first wine, Esporão Reserva, a  red wine. Eight years later, we also began producing olive oil.
New vineyards were born and old ones renewed. We created an Ampelography Field with 189 grape varieties for a study in which we discovered more about our terroir, and found seven different types of soil throughout the entire property. We realized that each type of soil, each grape variety, each field, each parcel of land, and each vine had to be cared for in a unique way and watched over with attention to every detail. This is exactly what happened in our Arrifes Olive Grove. We learned a great deal about the land, increased our knowledge, and improved our techniques and all of the work developed in the field, until we arrived where we are today with organic farming.
In the cellars, we apply new techniques and build new infrastructures to elevate the quality of our wines. First came the Lagares Cellar, which is for top shelf red wines, where the past and future walk hand in hand among clay amphorae, marble winepresses, and cement vats. Later came the mill that is equipped to make the finest olive oils, and today there is a new white wine cellar being completed.
We design and dedicate our lives to wine tourism, which heightens the experience of visiting this site. Around 20,000 people come through here every year to enjoy the landscape, wineries and cellars, our wine and olive oils, gastronomy, regional culture, and, above all, they leave here as part of our story.
Of all those who have visited, who have yet to come, who worked here before and work here today, there is not one who feels indifferent to these 702 hectares of vineyards, olive groves, and other cultures. There are 40 varieties of grapes and four olive varieties that extend all the way to our tables.
There are many years of history that numbers cannot sufficiently recount, but with each visit, each glass of wine and each dash of olive oil, we unveil them bit by bit. 750 years, and still so much to discover.
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