Cellar door open as usual. 1st March we close at 16h

 

Frogs + ♥ = wine

Did you know that the females of the Iberian Tree Frog generally only respond to, and mate with, males who call in the local frog-dialect? One could say that they take no risk and are happy with security providing gender conventions and established kinship systems.

But this is only half of the story. If we look more closely, we realize that a few females fall for the unique beauty of the spell of a foreign male passing by their pond, and love happens. This is when things get interesting at a genetic level, and in social life in general. Difference creates friction that challenges us to rethink what we hold for granted and allows us to invent new ways of being in the world.

And this is precisely how we at Adega Belém envision our approach to wine and to life in general, and define our promise: every single wine is handmade from mostly healthy, delicious grapes using scientific knowledge, sophisticated craftsmanship and quite a bit of natural randomness as well to grow into a strong distinct personality; a unique produce that reflects at the same time the varietal fruit character of our grapes, the ecological conditions of each vineyard and vintage year, and the love that drives the winemakers to do what they do.

And because the Iberian frog calling story proviodes such a good metaphor for us and our work, and because Catarina used to be a professional frog scientist (read here), we have made the Iberian frog our logo.

Frog Mating into Urban Winery

The Moreira & Picard family winemaking project in 14 logical steps

1. Frog mating and magical thinking

before 2013

We started off as university researchers, Catarina as an evolutionary biologist exploring frog mating in Portugal and David as an anthropologist studying magical thinking in the Western Indian Ocean. We met at a barbecue party and have stayed together ever since.

2. Back to School

2013

We decided to make wine together and spent two years studying oenology and viticulture at the Instituto Superior de Agronomia at the University of Lisbon. A professional internship led us to the Alentejo region.

3. First batch of ``bathroom`` red

2013

The first red is made in our bathroom back in the Santa Catarina neighbourhood of Lisboa. It smelled like a mixture of superglue, overcooked strawberry jam and oloroso sherry. We kept it for those guests who wouldn't leave. It was a rather curious wine.

4. Rheingau and Geisenheim University

2014

We became Erasmus students for the first time in our lives and spent our second year of oenological studies with the Vinifera Euromaster Programme at the University of Geisenheim in Germany.

5. Travelling winemaker years

2015

Catarina became an assistant winemaker at Provins in the Swiss Valais and later at Grande Enseada in Redondo, Portugal. In 2017, she became the resident winemaker of Herdade da Barrosinha in Alcacer do Sal, where she worked until 2019 with one of Portugal’s most senior winemakers, António Saramago.

6. Wine tourism research around the world

2016

Research in South Africa, California, Bordeaux, Austria and China funded by the University of Lausanne, Switzerland where David had become a full professor, helped clarify how to bring wine tourism into the 21st century. We realized that we needed the winery in the city where we want to live.

7. Aquisition of car repair shop

2016

We started looking for urban industrial sites and found this old car repair shop in Belém. We instantly fell in love with its weird and wonderful space full of antiquated equipment in a great location. It would become our winery.

8. Getting the land registry in order

2018

Two lawyers, four notaries and more than 70 neighbors helped us to update all legal documents linked to the land registry.

9. Building project submitted

2018

The project to transform the garage into a winery is submitted to the municipality of Lisbon.

10. Building works finally start

2019

The winery gets an earthquake-proof steel structure, new piping, new electric cabling, fire doors and an energy saving roof.

11. The cellar equipment arrives

2019

Ten custom made stainless steel tanks, oak barrels, pumps, a destemmer and a horizontal press are put in the cellar. The winemaking equipment is ready for work.

12. Ready to roll

2019

The winery gets its winery license and is ready to operate.

13. Opening of the tasting room

2020

After an intensive year of demolition works, masonry, carpentry, plumbing, plastering, painting, dealing with contractors and website programming, the winery is ready to open to the public. The Corona virus epidemics forces us to delay this til the summer.

14. First full vintage

2020

While using other wineries for our 2018 and 2019 vintages, 2020 is the first full vintage produced in the Belém winery.

Wines made with love and grapes, and not much else

Winemaking technology

Our low intervention approach to winemaking combines traditional techniques of spontaneous fermentation, oak barrel aging, foot stomping and grape skin maturation with contemporary cellar technology.

Minimizing impact

Our cooling system and pumps with frequency inverter minimize energy consumption. The use of non-chemical hot steam cleaning technology allows us to do without chemical cleaners in the winery.

Awards & Recommendations

Our wines and winery have been featured in many professional wine journals and received top reviews by distinctive wine critics.

Wine tasting glasses

We use professional wine tasting glasses, smaller than gastronomic glasses, with an opening narrower than their convex part so as to concentrate the aroma.

Waste water treatment

The winery uses waste water filters and has its own waste water treatment plant, reducing its CBO footprint by 90%.

Public subsidies

Because of the uniqueness of our project, we did not fit any public funding category and did not receive any subsidies.

Sulfites

Sulfites are a natural by-product of grape fermentation and therefore present in all wines. Because they are a good food preservative and because wine is the ephemeral state of grape must transforming into vinegar, we add a minimal extra amount of sulfites to preserve our wine as wine.

Laboratory

Our laboratory is equipped to monitor acidity, pH, density, temperature and SO2 levels in the grape must and wines.

Family Winery

Adega Belém is a family venture and everyone, young and old, gets involved. While David and Catarina are professional winemakers, all label designs are based on drawings by the two junior winemakers whose work so well reflects the crazy and chaotic harmony of our lives - and wines.

Bottling

To significantly reduce the CO2 footprint of our industry, we use ultra light-weight Bordeaux bottles and CO2-negative natural cork closures. We stopped using PLA or other plastic capsules from 2023.

Before becoming a winemaker, Catarina was an evolutionary biologist. Click on the heart symbol to learn about what she discovered and why we use the frog as our logo.

Packaging Waste

We use recycled paperboard boxes for all our deliveries and are members of the recycling schemes of the countries to which we deliver.

TEAM

Catarina Moreira
Winemaker

Evolutionary biologist and winemaker, Catarina is the social knot of the winery, she loves to read scientific articles, experiment with technologies and drink great wines. Her favorite Adega Belém wines are Alvarinho Curtimenta 2020 paired with the most delicious Arroz de Tamboril served at Marisqueira Promar in Porto Novo, and the Rabo da Rainha Grande Reserva 2020 accompanying a good book on a rainy afternoon.

Julio Moreira
Strong man with a big heart

Júlio is strong as a bear and has decisive ideas whenever all else fails. He is also known as Júber.

David Picard
Winemaker

Anthropologist and winemaker, David used to roam through the Western Indian Ocean as an ethnographer and tourism development consultant, now doing participant observation of the social life of wild yeasts and kinship systems within the world of winehood. His favorite Adega Belém wines are the Viosinho Brut Nature Sparkling wine paired with Filipe Frazão´s Açorda de Gambas, and Senhor Rita Reserva together with an Iberian porc fillet grilled by our neigbor Frank.

Helena Nascimento
Best Portuguese grandmother in the world

Helena is a chemist and the best Portuguese grandmother in the world

Ana & Sofia
Junior winemakers

Ana and Sofia draw with great talent and style the labels of most Adega Belém wines and have both a fine nose for exquisite wine, coming up with sometimes unexpected metaphores and aroma descriptors, hence enriching our family business and growing into the world of wine.

Anna Arakelyan
Winery & Tasting Room Intern

Knows all about wine, is extremely patient, knows how to tell good stories, speaks 27 languages

Lili
Cellar dog

Lili is a professional tennis ball fetcher and keeps the whole team including all guests and passers-by together

Intern from here or there
Chief Multitasking Intern

Has a lot of patience, will to learn, endurance, muscle power, appetite and a driving licence.