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Old Vineyards

Vineyards with 20 or more years, of typical Roman viticulture, planted ungrafted, with vine cuttings from old vines, free-standing vine training (vase or head of willow), with gobelet pruning.



Old vines are, as a rule, very small, rarely reaching more than 1 hectare. They form part of the traditional smallholding on the left bank of the river Guadiana, with deep roots in medieval tradition. The vines have a strange appearance for unaware visitors, giving the idea of little care in their cultivation. However, they are cultivated with passion and demand plenty dedication from their owners.

vinha antiga.jpg

Vine Training System

Free-standing vine training (vase or head of willow).


Short Strains



The vines are low, just over half a meter, so that the bunches, almost close to the ground, are protected by the shade of the foliage and do not suffer from scorch by the inclement sun during the summer months.

In older vineyards, the planting spacing is usually 2.5 x 2.5 m, but in more recent ones it can be 2.8 x 2.8 m or 3.0 x 3.0 m, to allow the passage of the tractor. It was, therefore, the imperatives of mechanization that forced a significant reduction in planting density.

Many of the vineyards have ungrafted vines. That is, they were not grafted onto American vines, as it is the norm throughout Europe to defend against phylloxera.

vinha antiga3.jpg

Vine Training System

In winter, with the vines stripped of leaves, it is possible to easily understand their training system, which can be in a vase or in a willow head form, as described by Columella in the 1st century. In the vase, the trunk of the vines has several arms inserted almost at the same height, where small stalks are left, with 2 or 3 eyes, which will give rise to the fruiting rods; in the willow head, very common across the border and throughout the region of La Mancha in Spain, there are also stalks with 2 or 3 eyes, but inserted at the end of the trunk in the shape of a head.


The overwhelming majority of old vines, planted in 2.50 x 2.50 or 3.0 x 3.0 m, have “mansas” vines, that is, planted ungrafted. The secret of vigor and resistance to phylloxera will therefore have to be underground. The presence of numerous rolled pebbles indicates that thousands or millions of years ago water erosion has rounded the edges of the stone. Therefore, the waters of the Guadiana, which flows nearby, must have been there. In some places, the presence of rolled pebbles is so large on the surface that the only possible crops are vineyards and olive groves.

Phylloxera does not have an easy life, as the sandy surface layer prevents the malefic insect from reaching the roots of the strains, which quickly dive into the soil in search of moisture retained in the clay soil. 


However, in some vineyards there are frequent failures, and it is likely that phylloxera has prevailed whenever subsoil conditions allowed.

Phytosanitary treatments are minimal or even absent, given the region's climate not conducive to the development of mildew and powdery mildew. That is why it is so common to lose most of the production whenever there are conditions for fungal attack. Fertilization and manuring are also not abundant, causing low yields, but giving rise to grapes that are very concentrated in aroma and flavor. That is why, wines are so aromatic and can be considered organic, given the purity of the environment in which the grapes are produced.

Some more enterprising winegrowers have been recovering some old vines, not only through "retancha" [planting to make up for the gaps], but also through proper fertilization and phytosanitary treatments. The results are quickly visible and rewarding, while fully respecting the status of old vines and environmental biodiversity.


Courelas dos Aleixos

Courelas dos Aleixos, where most of the old vines are located, originates from a large estate that was sold in small plots. Their owners or tenants, already in the second or third generation, cultivate them alone or with their families and, most of them, deliver the grapes and olives to the Cooperative of Granja-Amareleja, since it was created in 1952. However, some of them reserve part of the production to make their own wine, which they consume with family and friends until the next harvest. Although many of them have the basis of their livelihood in their fields, there are more and more people giving up on cultivating it due to advanced age and the worrying lack of continuers, as the younger generation is almost all working outside the region with no plans to return, except on holidays and family celebrations. For many, the cultivation of their fields is almost a leisure activity, but also the best proof of attachment to the land and a tribute to their ancesters.


Some investors, with roots in the region, interested in the production of wine, especially amphora wine, are starting to buy some of these fields and recover the vineyards, with very promising results, both in terms of increasing the production of grapes per hectare and in the quality of the wines. Amphora wines begin to be exported to various destinations at a good price. They are also thinking of exploring wine tourism, aware that old vines and historic grape varieties are one of their main assets. They seek to respond to a growing demand, both from national and foreign customers. They are, therefore, creating jobs, hiring technicians with higher education and demonstrating that there is a possible way to maintain all this heritage.

History of Courelas dos Aleixos

Monte dos Aleixos was part of the land heritage of Guilherme Correia Gião, a well-known farmer from Reguengos de Monsaraz and owner of vast lands that stretched from Granja, in the municipality of Mourão, to the border with Spain, in the municipality of Moura. As was tradition in the 19th century, the land was leased to small farmers in Amareleja, after being divided into plots of 10 hectares and, later, of 1 ha ("courelas"). The payment of the rights, made in cash and in kind (agricultural products), persisted until the 1974 revolution. With the expropriation of the land, in 1975 and 1976, the tenants stopped paying the rights and became owners of their "courelas".

Virtual Tour
Moreto Old Vineyards

Explore some of the ancient vineyards of Moreto grape variety from Granja-Amareleja and experience the rich wine heritage of the sub-region. A legacy with 2000 years of history.

Vineyard Parcel Courela dos Aleixos
Area 1.5 ha
Year of Planting 1992
Plantation System Free foot; 3x3m

Lat: 38.24071418668873

Long: -7.260118394305054

Destination of grapes Granja-Amareleja Cooperative

Vineyard Parcel Courela dos Aleixos
Area 0.504 + 0.637 ha (separated by the road)
Year of Planting 2002
Plantation System Free foot; 2.8 x 3 m

Lat: 38.25041070375997

Long: -7.26100218512483

Destination of grapes Granja-Amareleja Cooperative

Vineyard Parcel Courela dos Aleixos
Area0.7 ha
Year of Planting 1931
Plantation System Free foot; square

Lat: 38.274931

Long: -7.257036

Destination of grapes Granja-Amareleja Cooperative

Vineyard Parcel Courela dos Aleixos
Area0.6 ha
Year of Planting 1997
Plantation System Free foot; 2.5 x 2.5 m

Lat: 38.257058

Long: -7.248574

Destination of grapes Marel Winery

Vineyard Pyrangula (Figueirinhas)
Area 1.1 ha
Year of Planting 1998
Plantation System Free foot; 2.5 x 2.8 m

Lat: 38.2189316

Long: -7.2599921

Destination of grapes Granja-Amareleja Cooperative

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