Our brand name – Soalheiro, meaning ‘sunny’ – arises from the excellent sun exposure of the vineyards next to the winery. This is true for the rest of our vineyards too, because of the natural factors present in Monção and Melgaço.
Our region, at the northernmost point of Portugal, is protected from Atlantic influence by a range of mountains, providing optimal conditions for the growth of Alvarinho. That is, a large difference in temperature between the warm days and cold nights during maturation and the perfect amount of rain and sunshine. These are important conditions necessary for the protection of varietal aromas and preserving freshness.
The microclimate of Monção and Melgaço, conditioned by the mountains present in the region, is characterised as an Atlantic temperate microclimate with continental influence, featuring cold and rainy winters and hot and dry summers.
The presence of several bodies of water, namely the Minho river and its main tributaries, allows for a significant difference in temperature between day and night. This is especially important during maturation, when the range of temperature is beneficial for producing fresh and aromatic wines. One particularity of the river in our region is that it is very deep and narrow, hidden in the depths of a ravine with steep banks on either side. This topography permits very little fog over the part of the river running through Monção and Melgaço. Therefore, we have less risk of developing fungus. Once the Minho river passes Monção and Melgaço its banks become less steep and the river widens.
In our small parcels of vineyards, planted in granitic soil, Alvarinho adapts to several types of terrain. These plots start in the valley of the Minho river (50 m), climbing up the mountain slopes (400m) and reaching considerable altitude levels. In 2019 we planted two hectares of the highest-ever altitude vineyard of Alvarinho, at 1100 meters above sea level, to challenge its elasticity even more. Near a national park with schist soil, the vineyard is on a south-facing slope on a former glacier (nearly 1 million years ago). It is also an interesting historical place to visit, called Branda da Aveleira.
The terroir of Monção and Melgaço is not defined by only climate and natural factors, it is also made up of the people who live here and work daily on our land. The human factor of our terroir, namely the grapevine growth techniques and winemaking practices, amplify the peculiarities of the region’s natural characteristics.