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The area named after the river, with around 20,000 hectares of vineyards, was classified as a DOC in 1990 and is located in the middle of the Beiras region in the north of Portugal. Viticulture dates back to Greek antiquity. Especially in areas where vineyards have existed for centuries, one finds numerous strange cavities and depressions in the rocks in the form of stone basins (lagaretas). Presumably, grapes were pressed in these installations. This typical Portuguese method of stomping the grapes in the lagares (stone troughs) is still practised today. The area is framed on three sides by granite mountains and thus protected from the Atlantic. About 80% of the land area consists of forests, only 5% is used for viticulture. The vineyards are mostly on granite soils in the valleys of the three rivers Alva, Mondego and Dão. There are about 100,000 winegrowers who often cultivate smallest parcels of less than half a hectare. Therefore, the vineyards are highly fragmented and often widely scattered in dense eucalyptus and pine forests.

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Dr. Christa Hanten

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