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Historical Note

The oldest fossilized vines date back to the Eocene, and also found other fossils from the same plant in the Oligocene and Miocene periods. Originating Pliocene were found about a dozen species, occurring in a fairly wide area, stretching from the US to Europe and Greenland to Japan. During the glaciation of the Quaternary, the vine area of ​​occurrence was more restricted because at that time the flora took refuge in warmer regions. These were that with the retreat of ice to form part of the new centers of origin, which are located in North America, the Mediterranean and Asia.

The cultivation of the vine and its industrialization, as was effected in the Bronze Age, in regions such as Greece, Egypt and the Aegean islands.

Already domesticated, it began its expansion, being introduced in Rome and then going to a European track.

It is difficult to say with precision what the origin of the first Azorean strains, and when they were introduced in the area because the opinions are divergent, even contradictory.

Macedo (1981), referring to the introduction of the vine, tells us: "... states that the first came from rooted cuttings came from the island of Cyprus to the islands of S. Jorge and Pico in 1470 ..." however Lima ( 1943), when addressing the same issue on the island of Pico, says to us: "it appears that the first vine plants came from the island of Madeira, a view shared by Rebelo (1885) that tells us:" they say it was a priest, Fr. Peter Gigante, who many years ago introduced the Pico, the most propnos land similar culture, some came from rooted cuttings from the island of Madeira. ".

However, according to Avellar (1902): "The vineyard has not forgotten the first settlers, looking for their planting the most appropriate land, ungrateful to the culture of cereals."

Several references to this culture, as well as some of their productions in the different islands of the Azores, in the sixteenth century, can be found in Fertile (1963). So to describe the island of Santa Maria, the author comments on the cultivation of vines along almost the entire coast, mentioning the places where this was done: "... lançantes little steep slopes and in which there are cornfields by faldras, and in the vineyards are planted, "speaking of its production tells us:". All these vineyards give each year a hundred kites (1) wine, the best grapes that are in the islands, ..., where leaves much wine because they do not there bushel was not give a kite wine and more. "

On the island of São Miguel, it makes several references to this culture located throughout the island, one of them to speak of the port of Gourds Valley: "... the valley and land fajã tea and shallow with the sea, surrounded rock and slopes of Many moios (2) of land and biscuit (3) stone that served to vineyards. " and continuing towards the village of Lagoa: "Its granjearia this village wheat and pastel and vineyards, which are many and, after the Old Village, commonly, the best of the whole island, that is gathered, a few years by other , more than six hundred kites each year. ". As for wine production on the island, tells us: "He gave this island, in a year of good news close to two thousand barrels of wine, seven in the city, as many in the village of Alagoa, four in Ribeira Grande, and more in northeast and Village, and across the island. Now, in a good year, give five thousand barrels. ".

As these islands, also the author left the important notes on the rest of the archipelago.

In the Third, speaking of the area of ​​Porto Martins to Ribeira Seca: "... all these two-thirds of a league of coast are biscuit, all planted orchards and vineyards ..." and Serreta: "... here is an amount of biscoitais in the land as eight or ten moios, which gives a lot of wine and fruit all the luck. ". However as regards the island of Graciosa, we found only a note, bordering the vineyard close to the beach.

The island of São Jorge, highlights the area that extends from the Herds Ribeira do Nabo, as: "... cookie lands that give more wine than bread ..." and some fajãs: "... gives a lot of bread and wine ... "and" ... now gives many wines. ".

(1) - 1 barrel = 480 liters

(2) - 1 = 60 bushels moio

1 bushel small stick = 968 m2

1 bushel = 1393 m2 big stick

(In all the islands of the region is used the small stick bushel, with the exception of St. Michael which uses both). (3) - Soil essentially constituted by volcanic disaggregated slag. Describing the island of Pico, refers several times to their vineyards and their outputs. Speaking of Santa Barbara: "... in which there is plenty of vineyards, which give every year twelve hundred barrels of good wine." Village of Lages: "There are many vineyards in this parish that go much growth, and yet "... many barrels of wine, by making themselves the same parish of S. Roque village over his seven hundred each year;".

As for Faial, we quote a passage on the White Castle harbor and summarizing the situation of the island's viticulture at this time: "... where they have some caravels and off boats, and having wine, as are some principiadas vineyards, if they can carry it, but the cause of no vineyards on the island, with a very good ground for it, is not to give the residents to plant them and those that were beginning were destroying some rabbits and cattle and stole. ".

As we can see by the aforementioned author, the vine was only cultivated on land not conducive to the culture of cereals, particularly wheat, and pastel, the latter of great importance and the main export of these islands.

Since this region of volcanic origin, and there is still, in the early centuries of settlement, many manifestations of this nature, easily deduces that there were plenty places where viticulture it could deploy.

We note that, until the mid-nineteenth century, the grape varieties grown in the area were European, deserving of them, the Verdelho, the consensus of historians as the most referenced and greater expression.

Costa (1845) tells us in relation to Graciosa Island: "The vines are usually Verdelho, tastier quality and best out appear a few feet of alicante of mourata, saborim, muscat, ferral and lady's finger, but. in small amounts. ".

Also Avellar (1902), mentions the varieties grown on the island of St. George: "Of the different grape varieties, the best quality in wine and production were the Verdelho and Terrantez that there are still some crops Other was like. : the bastard, muscat, red and boal, but in low abundance and some of them just for the table. ".

With regard to the production and marketing of wine should distinguish two distinct periods: the first until the mid-nineteenth century, when the appearance of powdery mildew in the region, and the second from that date.

Wine production in the Azores has grown over the years, despite the problem of the crop and from crop to check (Pereira, 1984).

We should turn to Lamb (1981) to general view as it stood viticulture in the region in the early eighteenth century. About Santa Maria tells us: "Wine has no need of outside." and St. Michael: "... because this island wine is good, and comes to give him five thousand barrels referring to the Third:" In wine is rich, but the people so much, and great tam out the competition that not to the island just her wine, is not the best; excellent but it comes from the island of Pico, Faial and S. Jorge, with abounding not only for themselves but for the ships of India, armed and fleet, that proversse go there, and the continuous foreign vessels, ... "the Graciosa and São Jorge, respectively:".. ... produces large quantities of wine ... "and" it's so much wine that gives three thousand barrels of wine each year, and some more "speaking of Faial writes "There are few vineyards on the island, ..., to have next to you the big island of Pico, which might be called the mother of the wine.", in relation to the peak: "the greatest fruit, and the most celebrated of this big island of Pico is your lot, and excellent wine ... ".

Sousa (1822) relates quantities of wine exported these islands and its main destinations being: England with two thousand barrels of wine and a thousand brandy, Brazil with four thousand barrels of wine and two hundred spirits, the United States with four thousand barrels of wine and two hundred spirits, and finally Hamburg, Russia and France with a total of six thousand barrels of wine.

Without wishing to belittle the other islands we highlight Graciosa, São Jorge and Pico, because they have had a greater role in the production and export of these products, before the appearance of powdery mildew.

About Graciosa Island, tells us Moniz (1883), "The harvest of the island has never been less than 500 kites and should be noted that in the years of abundance produces more than 10,000 barrels, as happened in 1836, 1851 and 1852 . regular wine production was computed always between 6000-7000 barrels, ... ".

Initially, the vineyard enjoying almost exclusively the cookie land "was for the island's self-consumption, then, from the mid-seventeenth century to about 1840, comes to occupy the lavradios land, as documented Costa (1845): "their culture is one of the island's largest, and the most interesting branch of its agriculture, which has always merited the most serious care of the farmers. Your despeza with little difference out of logs that the same vineyards produce: their production is very variable and precarious, however the vineyards of Graciosa produce more than the other islands because they were almost all planted on land, who once were meetings. ".

The wine of Graciosa was reputed bad, however, it seems that the quality of this has only decreased due to the fact that mostly be exported in the form of spirits, which led winegrowers to neglect both the state of the grapes , during the grape harvest, as the wine itself (Costa, 1845).

Ferreira (1968) gives us some reasons for export in the form of brandy: "The reasons why it did not export the wine deduce easily: on the one hand, disadvantageously suffer competition from Pico wines and the best of Continent quality, on the other hand, being of low alcohol concentration was liable to be lost when being transported over long distances, in addition, brandy transportation was facilitated by the reduction in volume. ".

Regarding the island of São Jorge, although there are years in which it had to import wine for domestic consumption, as in 1570, it is also true that the very next year their production was not only sufficient for self, as well as the surplus exported.

Viticulture has taken has always been an important role in Jorgense economy. The island's production reached good levels and their export began quite early (Avellar, 1902).

Silveira (1927) gives us a clearer idea of ​​the production: "The Jorgense viticulture reached harvest in normal years some 10,000 to 12,000 barrels of white wine ..." as well as the markets where it was exported, "... to England and Brazil in addition to the usual supplies that made the S. Miguel and Madeira ... "

Find vereações candles Chamber to prohibit the import of wine from Pico, that would be packed with that island by speculators, deteriorating the quality of the S. Jorge wine. By contrast, the House of Horta, took similar measures in relation to S. Jorge wines for the same reason the candles, not to denigrate the Pico wine.

Finally, each trying to defend himself despising the other, but the quality of wine Jorgense was imposed by itself.

According to Macedo (198 1) on the first half of the sixteenth century Pico wine exported. In 1670, it was the Council of Horta authorized by the Prince Regent to send annually a ship wine to Brazil, but finding it insufficient in 1735, the tenants asked for an extension of this trade.

For quantities of wine produced on the island of Pico, Rebelo (1885) tells us: "The regular harvest of wine before orçava disease of some twelve to fifteen thousand barrels annually, but having years of so extraordinary production that reached pay twenty-five thousand. ". The disease referred to the author is the powdery mildew.

It was no doubt this island, that larger quantities of wine produced and that, for its excellent quality, gained fame far beyond borders.

Sousa (1822) refers to the export of white wines Peak in the amount of twelve thousand barrels. As to the main destinations of this product, Lima (1943) states that the export was done mainly to England, in smaller quantities to Germany, Russia and Brazil, and much reduced scale to the mainland.

When the Azorean viticulture was in a aprasivel situation, behold, in the mid-nineteenth century, the Oidium tuckeri arises from America, which fiercely attacked the European vineyards, starting to decline precipitously wine production, as documented in Moniz (1883) "... whose production since 1853 has greatly decreased due to the damage caused by powdery mildew in the vineyards." and also Macedo (1981): "... until in 1853 the destructive mildew came to him annihilate this wealth of wealth ...".

It was around this time that arrived in the Azores American species was Vitis labrusca, called "smell of grape," as he tells us Avellar (1902): "The Izabel vineyard, or smell, was introduced in the Azores by Mr. António Borges da House Medeiros, current Marquis of Praia and Monforte, which in winter 1853-1854 (October to March) being in Paris, instructed Mr. Francisco José Gabriel, Belgian horticulturist, his companion, to make one of the finest collections of exotic plants that once came to St. Michael, from thousand copies. in this number also came to Izabel was as exotic plant ..., this species was planted on the island of Pico on the occasion of giving the coast in January 1856, in Cais do Mourato, of that island, the American guys Revens Wood in trip to France. ".

It was found that this new strain was resistant to powdery mildew, hence the interest shown by São Miguel winegrowers and the creation of a winery committee, with the aim of developing this new facet of wine growing in the Azores. To know the course of this event, we quote Almeida (1887), "was organized a winery commission in Ponta Delgada composed of competent gentlemen, which the District General Board had come, in order to improve and kind to the vine wine production Izabel, a practical France.

As a result of this decision reached appreciated August 8, 1886, the island, Mr. Alphonse Chaume, starting on September 15 the manufacturing work. It established a proper cellar in the city center and many owners of vineyards sent their product to be conveniently manufactured.

Proceeded to decanting, it was found that his product meets the requirements, which is very nice, because actually the wine industry brings a cheerful and well compensated read. ".

The same author also refers to what happened in Brazil, transcribing the brochure published by the firm "Gil and Cª", established in the capital of that country, where they are made compliments to this wine, named "Goshawk". It was undoubtedly this country, with its smell of wine imports, which made the São Miguel winegrowers are entusiasmassem and initiate a new era of wine production.

Also on the island of Pico has developed the culture of this new wine-growing species, horn in Avellar account (1902): "It was then planted in the said island of Pico until Mr. Manuel Maria da Terra Brum, studying their culture and wine making to It developed in its properties, a fact that many others repeated owners, resulting in the island of Pico produce today a few thousand smell of wine barrels .... "

But adversity this culture did not stop the mildew in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, when it began to be combated with the use of sulfur, came new calamity entomological origin, called phylloxera and caused by Phy11oxera vastatris.

The introduction of this insect was made through varieties from America, imported in order to replace the European very sensitive to mildew.

Phylloxera was the final bout of European varieties, which were no longer in the best condition, sparing also the "smell of vineyard."

Winegrowers tried to overcome their precarious situation, resorting increasingly to direct producers, because they are less susceptible to disease, easier to grow and more productive.

The areas of Verdelho increasingly become smaller, although not completely extinguished. Lima (1943) refers to the situation of viticulture in Pico, telling us: "Currently only a short coastal strip these parched fields of lava is harnessed in tilling a few vines, some of the old Verdelho, most of an American variety called Izabel , producing mediocre wine, known to smell of wine ... ".

Arising from the situation described above, arose from the end of the 80s the need to revive this culture in order to replace the existing markets once and simultaneously defend rural populations linked to wine production.

In this sense, objectives and priorities which resulted the following measures were defined: - investment aids programs: income support programs; Establishment of demarcated zones; Creation of the Regional Wine Commission of the Azores.

Investment grants resulted in significant increases in the restructured area that, so far, allowed initially, revive the culture on the islands most tradition - Terceira, Graciosa and Pico.

One of the main structural problems of the sector in this region, and the small size of plots (the average area per wine farm is approximately 0.3 ha) and the dispersion thereof, associated with a traditional driving system called "corrals" where vineyards and conducted on the ground between stone walls, which requires high hand labor, not allowing mechanization of some cultural techniques.

With Decree-Law No. 17/94, of 25 January, which approved the Statute of Winegrowing zones for the Azores, it was consecrated three production areas able to give quality wines.

Thus were established the names of "Cookies" and "Peak" for the quality liqueur wines in Region Determined -VLQPRD - and "Graciosa" for produced quality wines in a Specific Region - VQPRD. Resulting from the approval of these Marks of Origin, the Commission came the Regional Viticulture (CVRAçores). In 1997, the CVRAçores ranked the first wines VQPRD and VLQPRD.

In terms of processing and marketing units currently exists in the Azores Viticultural Cooperative Pico Island, the Adega Cooperativa da Graciosa Island and the Cooperative of Cookies Cellar (on Terceira), that in addition to the winegrowers who are sole proprietorships.

Also in the priorities given to the sector and to point out that the Autonomous Region of the Azores also has a wide area to restructure. Thus, they are being put into practice various development strategies outlined for this sector, implemented in different islands and in its essence boil down to the continuation of the restructuring process, strengthening experimentation, dissemination and popularization of the performed experimentation, professional training different levels, as well as the promotion and support to associations, based on the improvement and modernization of technical, human and material resources of producer organizations.

Let us wait for better days this culture, which has certainly been a source of wealth of these islands.

Taken from:

Goulart, Elizabeth M. (1991) - Contribution to the Study of Viticulture in Pico Island. Final report of the Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Engineering, University of the Azores. Angra do Heroismo.

Anonymous (2001) - Inventory Viticultural Potential - Azores. Regional Directorate for Agricultural Development.