The Algarve has a legacy as a wine producing region.
For many years, the wine trade in the Algarve was very important. However, in the middle of the 20th century, wine production declined as the benefits of wine could not compete with the profits that tourism brought to the region.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the wine production tradition experienced a revival in the Algarve and new wineries appeared, producing exceptional wines. The soils where the grapes are grown are rich in clay, limestone, stoneware and even areas with shale.

It is in the Algarve, between Silves and Monchique that you can find the Quinta do Francês, a family property, with 8 hectares of vineyards, located on the Odelouca stream. Quinta do Francês is a young vine started in 2002, which produces red wines of two different types: Gama Odelouca and Gama Quinta do Francês.

Wine production effected by Covid- 19
At the Quinta, we can find Tânia Matos, who works for the company. She is usually in the wine’s store, but when needed, she also helps with the harvest. This year, her main concern is related to the drop in visitors, which have fallen “by 70 percent compared to last year”, she said. “Most groups book one year in advance and this year they have cancelled”, she added.

Before the pandemic, Tânia Matos told The Portugal News, that they had groups of 50 to 60 people, and now adding to the issue of cancellations, the Quinta is also unable to receive large groups at one time. The recent law regarding the state of contingency restricts the number of people per group, to a maximum of 10. “Usually September and October are a good months, but this year is going badly due to Covid-19”, she said.

In addition to the reduction in visits, which also influences the purchase of bottles of wine, the Covid-19 pandemic changed the general operations of the vineyard. In order to guarantee the health of the team, essentially made up of family members, neighbours and friends, “during the harvest we use masks and try to use disinfectant whenever possible”, Tânia Matos said.

Harvest 2020: Less quantity, more quality.
Experts highly praise the quality of the wines of the Algarve. Anibal Neto, an agronomist in the Algarve, told The Portugal News “we are the region that has the most wines with praise in a blind tasting competition, compared to the volume of production”.

“This year the production has dropped 20 percent compared to 2019, but the quality of the vine is very interesting”, he said. “Our wine has a lot of quality, there is a choice of grapes both in the field and in the cellar”. Anibal Neves also reinforced the level of excellence of Algarve wines, “the fact that we are small, makes us pay attention to the details”, he said.

When asked about the workers in the harvest in the Algarve, Anibal Neto explained that there simply aren´t enough, “most of the harvest jobs, around 90 percent, are undertaken by people from Asia with no qualifications”. In addition, “we also have some Portuguese teams that come from schools outside the Algarve to do their internships. However, these people have goals, aspire to other positions and don’t want to spend a long time in the harvest”, said the agronomist.

To end the interview, Anibal Neto made an appeal: “People should support local producers and buy Algarve wines”. In his opinion, restaurants do not always make the right choices, as they buy wines from other regions of the country, basing their buying primarily on price, thus failing to contribute to this award winning local economy.