Soil and climate
The vineyards are located on soil with poor fertility, mainly granite with several schist outcrops which rise to the south and west of the region. Although they can be found at altitudes of around 800 metres, it is between 400 and 500 metres that the vines grow best.
The irregularities of the ground, surrounded by a set of major hill ranges that shelter it from outside influences (Serra do Caramulo to the west, luxuriant Buçaco to the south, Serra da Nave to the north and imposing Serra da Estrela to the east), form an important barrier to the coastal rain and to the aggressive continental winds. The small rural properties and exuberant vegetation in all shades of green, alternating with rock, contribute to the almost anonymous nature of the vineyards within the landscape. In fact, there are around 16,000 hectares of vines planted in a 388,000 hectare area where the local population take advantage of the climate and put their ancient agricultural skills to work on the excellent soil.
The regional river network is characterised by a rigid layout that clearly shows an adaptation to the structure of the land through which the region’s three main rivers - the Dão, the Mondego and the Alva - flow, and whose paths often run parallel as they course throughout the granite massif. The climate, although temperate, is cold and rainy in winter and very hot and dry in summer, but with major microclimate variations that are very important to the quality of the wines and which affect the sub-regions of Alva, Besteiros, Castendo, Serra da Estrela, Silgueiros, Terras de Azurara and Terras de Senhorim. The result is a set of unique conditions which make wines of well defined and unmistakeable characteristics.