The book Quinta do Crasto. A story that began a long time ago (1615-2018) can be ordered through the email



The approach by boat from upstream, from Régua, does not allow us to look on the splendour of the Crasto estate. On the other hand, coming from the opposite direction, from Pinhão, going downstream towards the west and Porto, we are provided the opportunity to contemplate, in front of us and to our eternal astonishment, this wonderful estate and perhaps its most wellknown and highly regarded section – the Vinha Maria Teresa. This plot is immediately followed by the Vinha da Ponte plot. The estate develops over smoothly undulating terraces, headed by the long installation of the house, the warehouse, the presses and the winery. The buildings follow the crest of the hill discreetly while displaying the certainty that the head of the company, responsible for planning the vineyards and their plots and for the centrality of the whole estate is right there. Crasto is much more than this, but this unmissable first impression lasts for decades in our soul, encapsulating the first notion we have of the estate: that of peacefulness. Seen from the river, or even from the other bank, the south bank or left bank, Crasto is delightful and serene.

The estate and the Douro gain different shapes and looks, depending on the viewpoint. The river and the valley, seen from Crasto, take on a dramatic scale, such is their power. They acquire majesty from Sobreira, from its high vantage point. From the estate’s house, almost perched on the railway line near the old station of Ferrão, which is now abandoned, the valley seems to be eternally at rest, a mysterious water mirror. The possibility of looking at the rippling of the vines from mid-river is a glimpse of the sublime! Unforgettable moments of beauty, combining the work of Man with Nature’s offerings.

Crasto is masterful! Over 400 years of history, part of which is recorded in documents. Now, more than ever, the 100 years after a kind of re-foundation represent a certainty! The Quinta do Crasto estate is a repository of the history of the Douro and the Port Wine, with all its episodes, from the wines produced before the founding of the Company, or even prior to wine-making with the use of brandy, to the major projection of the new Douro DOC wines. We must also not forget all the events and vicissitudes of Crasto through the ages, as it navigated the  Pombaline Company, successive liberalization and market regulation movements, the great plagues of the nineteenth century (powdery mildew, downy mildew and phylloxera), the creation of the “Method for the Distribution of the benefits of port” (Álvaro Moreira da Fonseca), the foundation of Casa do Douro and of Instituto do Vinho do Porto (Port Wine Institute), the 1974 political revolution and the accession to the European Union (then called European Economic Community)! All this history had an impact on Crasto. But Crasto was not just a passive observer, it participated in all this history! In other words, its owners or farmers ensured its development, its projection for external trade and the innovation of its working and production methods. In a nutshell, they adapted to the new times, but they also knew how to choose and make those times happen.

This centuries-old history is the purpose of this book. Made by an upscale partnership: the Crasto estate and Gaspar Martins Pereira! The former, with the Almeida and Roquette families, responsible for some of the best Portuguese wines. The latter, the greatest authority on the history of the Douro Demarcated Region and Port! This work shows us the life of this estate, the work of its owners, farmers, technicians and workers over the centuries. The work may provide evidence, documents and traces back to the 17th century noblemen, and especially back to the owners, merchants and magistrates of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including the lineage of the Pacheco Pereira family, a renowned family of Porto and very much connected to the wines of the Douro. In this book, we can also see how a second family, that of Constantino de Almeida, took over the estate and its business in the 20th century and was responsible for a new cycle of development and consolidation. Later, with the Moreira de Almeida and Roquette family, Crasto entered a new phase of growth, innovation projection abroad. In particular, it is in this most recent period that the major and new reputation of Crasto, that of DOC wines, is built and strengthened. One contribution to this new unprecedented adventure for this estate as a business entity was the expansion of its vineyards to the distant plots of the so-called Upper Douro.

In this book, Gaspar Martins Pereira, with his usual thoroughness, take us throughout times and civil and property registers to the evolution of the estate, its transformations of structure and size and the changes in its vocation. Of particular interest are the references to the ways in which wine was made. Or, as it is often said in Douro, how the wine was ‘fabricated’, when it was legal and reasonable to add elderberry and sugar to give colour and sweetness, or to mix it with various wines and products, or to add brandy before, during or after fermentation, in the press, the vat or the barrel. All these practices have already been legal and banned. They have been used to ‘fabricate’ wine, but also to ‘martelar’ (falsify) the wine, as would be said today. This again makes us realize that much of the work in the vineyards and with wines is constant, but it is also changeable. A certainty of the Douro and Port is the alliance between permanent tradition and agile change, when done meticulously and with experience. This is the secret of success. And it has been the recipe followed by Crasto.

But there is something at Crasto that Gaspar Martins Pereira detects and reveals as essential not only for the life of this estate, but which also constitutes a prime factor for the development of the entire region. In short, this Douro estate is almost always a family affair! The durability, richness, beauty, yield and quality of a Douro estate greatly depends on the family, on how the property passes from hand to hand and from generation to generation. The prosperity of a Douro estate depends largely on the stability of a family. This is not an absolute rule, but it is a very high probability. The best years of Quinta do Crasto were the years of the Pacheco Pereira family, the Constantino de Almeida family, then Moreira de Almeida and now the Roquette family.

An estate has a tilled area, house, warehouse, press, winery and workers’ dwellings. Sometimes there is a chapel. It has terraces and paths. It may have cereal plots, vegetable gardens and olive groves. It has barns for animals and agricultural machinery. Now, in modern times, it has facilities to host visitors and tourists. An estate is a complex institution, a delicate organization and a sensitive entity. Biographies of estates have been made, as Gaspar Martins Pereira has done. Life in a estate is difficult, dependent on nature and climate conditions, giving it an unpredictable and erratic character which is not always the best advisor for an economic and commercial activity. On an estate, time periods are long, season periods, farming operation periods, planting and growing periods, ageing periods. An estate requires patience, wisdom, experience, waiting, attention and thoroughness. On an estate, the economic factors are as important as human factors; social aspects as decisive as the natural ones. On an estate, leadership is just as important as the team.

An estate needs someone to work the soil. A farmer. An owner. And it certainly needs a winegrower or vintner! Like any other organization or company. But to last and to live, an estate needs a family. A vineyard needs time. The life of a vine and a vineyard is measured in decades. Planting, treating, growing, developing, profiting, refining and consolidating are tasks that take many years. A family allows forecasts to be made throughout many generations and it helps to form work and management teams, with a prime factor: the human factor. The value of the people is important. The force of feelings inspires. The connection to the land and the estate leaves its mark.

Of course there could be a good estate in bad hands. Or a poor estate in good hands. But any of these situations are ephemeral and doomed to end quickly. Moreover, families are the secret of an estate’s success just as often as they are the reason for its collapse. Ambition, conflicts and inheritance distribution can harm estates. A family crisis will almost certainly lead to a crisis on the estate.

In the history of the Crasto estate, so well told by Gaspar Martins Pereira, the journey of the estate from family to family, from crisis to crisis, from success to success can easily be seen. Every time Quinta do Crasto won, you can see it was a period of “a good estate in good hands”! It is expected that this Crasto, which has known how to change in recent decades, will maintain its character and continue blazing its trail. So that we can always see, around the turn in the river, the undulations of the Maria Teresa plot come into view…

António Barreto

Last Updated: April 21, 2021