On our journey to feature inspirational women in the wine industry, we found one amazing woman in Portugal. Her name was Dona Antonia Ferreira, and she shaped the port trade in Portugal in the 1800s like no other person. We also, appropriately, tasted a port and discussed the tasting notes and more.
We also share our resolutions for this year… if we made any. As always, give it a listen, and leave a 5 star rating!
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Sources used for this episode:
Abreu, Sérgio. “Vintner Project.” Vintner Project, 29 Oct. 2020, https://vintnerproject.com/wine/antonia-the-xix-century-wine-business-woman-you-never-heard-of/.
Admin. “Ferreira: A Story Dating Back More than 250 Years: Feed Magazine.” Feed., 20 Nov. 2017, https://feed.jeronimomartins.com/age/ferreira-story-dating-back-250-years/.
“Antonia Ferreira.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Aug. 2022, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonia_Ferreira.
“Casa Ferreirinha Press – English Pdf.” Sogrape, https://eng.sograpevinhos.com/app/templates/media/kits_imprensa/casa-ferreirinha_press-en.pdf.
Unique Flavours. “The Story of Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira: Ferreirinha’s House.” Unique Flavours, Unique Flavours, 31 Mar. 2022, https://uflavours.com/en/blogs/news/a-historia-de-dona-antonia-adelaide-ferreira-casa-da-ferreirinha.
Full episode transcript:
Ute: Hello, and welcome to another episode of a GenXer and a
Ute: Walk into a Winery. We are your hosts, Ute Mitchell and
Ali: Ali Simpson.
Ute: Well, this is great. We made it through a whole introduction.
Ali: I know!
Before we crack into this wine today, we wanted to remind you of a few housekeeping items. Check out the show notes for free downloads, a transcript of this episode, and the sources used for the history of today’s famous woman in wine. There’s also a topic request form there, so if you have a wine, a woman in wine, or a question about either of those, please let us know.
Ute: Also, if you’re listening on a platform that allows you to rate, review, subscribe, download, please do all of those things.
We’d really appreciate it. Good ratings and nice reviews help us get seen when new listeners are searching for their next favorite podcast. And subscribers and downloads help us get seen by the powers that be, which in turn helps us continue to bring more and more great content to your ears each week.
Ali: Yes. Oh, okay. Housekeeping done!
How’s your week been? How’s your studying been going?
Ute: Yes, that… so it’s been a bit of a week and I don’t know, I, I think it’s post Christmas thing still, I, I still sometimes struggle with the idea that the new year is only two weeks old. I mean, here we are as of the date of this recording, it is the 17th.
Ute: And so two and a half weeks of the new year, and in my mind, somehow everybody’s still here and you know, and it’s winter and it’s been raining a lot. And so I’ve had just a little bit of a down week, just not feeling quite up for anything.
Ute: And then it occurred to me, yesterday, that we were gonna meet and study today. And I’m going, oh, I studied some last week, but not nearly as much as I should have. Which takes us right into our next little thing is that is part of my resolutions.
Ali: Well, yes. We, we never chatted resolutions on our last, our New Year’s episode.
Ali: Do you make resolutions every year?
Ute: So I did at some point make resolutions for like the full year, and then I stopped making them because I’m like, oh, well New Year’s just an arbitrary day to make resolutions and things like that.
Ute: So what I did this year is I started doing monthly resolutions because I really want it to be something that I can actually stick with. So if I do a monthly resolution, and I did that in my journal, I feel like I’m gonna keep it much smaller.
Ute: Rather than to think, you know, big picture, what am I gonna do this year? I’m thinking, what am I gonna do this month? And so I started writing down a few items and as I’m going back into my journal, I’m actually being able to like check them off.
Ute: With the exception for the studying , but I’m getting back into it now. And our friend Tamara, who we’ve mentioned in a previous episode, she’s also studying with us.
And so I feel like I also want to stay accountable to her.
Ute: Because she’s also retaking this test with me.
Ali: Right. Right.
Ute: And so I don’t wanna be the person who, you know, gets together every week and goes uhhhh…didn’t do it.
Ali: Hold my hand while we go through all these topics.
Ute: Yeah, which today is exactly the case.
Ali: It’s our, it’s our first big study session back, so, I think we need to find our groove again.
Ali: That works out really well because you start thinking now is the time about, I think it’s like three to six weeks after the new year where resolutions really start to fall off.
Ali: And people are just like, eh, get it next time. So that’s really cool that you make it very attainable.
Ute: Yeah. I think that’s probably the way to do it. And so it’s just every last day of the month, I can sit down and look back at what did I do this month and were the resolutions, you know, small enough or on point enough to where I can actually do them.
Because if you think detailed enough, you can do it. It’s once you start like really like having these big, lofty goals. I mean, that’s nice for a five year plan, but maybe not for, you know, what you have right in front of you.
Ali: Yeah. Yeah. That’s good.
Ute: Did you make any resolutions?
Ali: I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. My new year starts my birthday, so, I do birthday resolutions.
Ute: I kinda like that. That’s kinda neat though.
Ali: Yeah. And I like to keep ’em… I think I, I’ll do like three, I won’t write more than three for myself.
Ali: And they are some bigger ones, but they’re also things that I know that I have been putting the work in towards those outcomes. So like last year, I guess 2021 for my birthday. A couple of my resolutions, I think actually all three of them were: buy my first house. Start investing. And run my second marathon. All things I knew I wanted to do.
Ali: That I was already looking at how is this viable for me? And by the time my birthday came around in 2022, I was able to check all of them off.
Ute: That’s awesome. Congratulations.
Ali: Thank you.
Ute: I love that. Maybe, maybe I’ll get into birthday resolutions too.
Ali: I like the monthly ones though. Like having those, those goals.
Ute: Right, yes. I, I definitely like going by the month for sure.
Ali: I think that that aligns with why I’m always looking for like my next race or like the next certification to do, because those are smaller chunks.
Ali: And I can set out my schedule and know that they are attainable.
Ute: For sure.
Ali: Yeah. All right, cool.
Ute: Well, good. I think we should drink
Ali: Okay! Don’t tell me twice. What did you bring for us today?
Ute: So based on the wonderful lady that you are going to tell us about later, and she truly is badass. I have to, of course, share a port, and this one is amazing, I think. It is the Croft Reserve Tawny Port. So Croft has been around for over 400 years, which is always something that blows my mind.
Again, living in Oregon and what a young wine region this is. Every time I go somewhere else where they’ve been around for, like, hundreds of years. I go, wow, . So this port was aged in oak casks, and it is literally a combination of their finest ports in one bottle.
So generally port is made by crushing the grapes in these open top shallow vats for something like three days. Then they’re transferred into stainless steel tanks to continue the fermentation process, which they do until they reach their desired sugar level, because port is somewhat of a sweet wine. And fermentation can be stopped then by adding a higher alcohol level like brandy. This one kills the yeast that’s required for fermentation of the wine.
And so at that point you just age it. And this one was aged, like I said, in oak casks for seven years. And then the individual wines were blended together for another few months before they were bottled. So this one is rated 90 points by Wine Spectator. So that’s a pretty decent rating, although I will say I don’t often look at the rating. I might, if I don’t know anything about a wine, I am much more likely to go, “okay, so this has gotten consistently good ratings in the nineties, that might be worth a try.”
Ali: Yeah, I agree with that. I don’t think that professional ratings are like, my end all be all if I’m gonna buy a wine or try a wine, but agreed. If it’s one I haven’t tried before then I’ll take it into consideration if it’s consistently high or consistently low. I mean, they are professionals for a reason.
Ute: That is true. Yes.
Ali: The industry trusts these voices for a reason.
Ute: Yes. Yes.
Ali: Yeah. We should definitely do an episode on the rating system though, because I think it was like developed in the United States, wasn’t it?
Like the the present day rating system. We can cut all of this if I’m totally off too, so…
Ute: No, I think you might be right. Yeah. And then Jancis Robinson came along and she’s like, “Nah uh! I’m gonna do 20 points. Thank you very much!”
Ali: The queen.
Ute: The queen, she is a queen. And literally, did you, I dunno, you probably watched it. Yeah. The… I think, was it the third Somm movie where she and Fred Dame and…
Ali: they recreate… Steven Spurrier!
Ute: Yes. Got together and tasted these wines and they’re like, “oh yeah, this is the wine. And this is from where it, the, the year and the vintage.” And well, year and vintage…duh!
Ali: They each brought like their favorite bottle or like one bottle that really resonated with them.
Ali: Yeah, that was, that was a very… because Steven Spurrier’s very well known for the… Tasting of Paris? The Paris tasting?
Ute: Yes, exactly.
Ali: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
Ute: Yep. Mm-hmm. Well, so anyway, you probably heard it. I poured, and here’s the winemaker’s notes. I took it right from their website. It says it’s “light brick, red”, and I feel like it’s a little bit more on brown side.
Ali: It’s almost a little orangey.
Ute: But it did say “with an amber hue. On the nose, rich red fruit, notes of caramel, raisins and cloves”, and really the raisins.
Ute: …right away “On the palate cardamom, spice, butterscotch, and elegant red current, interwoven with attractive, nutty aromas. Smooth and round on the palate. Full of luscious strawberry jam flavors, and an elegant finish.”
It better be good!
[ slurping noises]
Ute: Hmm mm-hmm .
Ali: Oh. That’s like, I just took a handful of, you know, like you leave the box of raisins sitting in the sun for a little bit.
Ali: And then you just eat a couple of ’em.
Ute: I love that.
Ali: That’s exactly what it is right there.
Ute: It is so lovely. And I mean, it’s sweet. So you don’t need all that much of it. It’s literally like eating candy.
Ali: Yeah. Yeah.
Ute: And it kind of burns you in your throat a little bit.
Ali: It has heat, for sure!.
Ute: It’s got some, yeah, it does have some heat, doesn’t it?
Ali: I noticed that. I didn’t know if it was like just I… I brushed my teeth before I came today, so I didn’t know if it was the toothpaste!
Ute: So you gotta know, like literally any sommelier, whatever, who will go into a wine tasting, they will not brush their teeth that day. Even if they’re going in the afternoon, they will not brush their teeth.
Ali: I am notorious for this .
Ute: You were also the one who was gonna chew some gum right before we went into the exam!
Ali: It was a mint!
Ute: Yeah, exactly!
Ali: I was nervous and I needed to put a mint in my mouth to help my nerves.
Ute: It was so funny. I mean, I literally, I’m watching her, she’s taking this mint out of her bag and I’m going, “what are you doing?”
Ali: We’re literally about to sit a test that involves you tasting things.
Ute: So anyway, this port is currently at about $20 for a bottle.
So that’s actually a really decent price. And the nice thing is you can keep it open for some time, definitely much longer than, you know, a regular red wine. So I, I love this.
Ali: It’s really good.
Ute: It’s been open for a bit. I can’t really say how long, but… it’s not that long! No worries.
Ali: It’s good.
Ute: It is good.
Ali: I definitely learned, that was one thing that I learned in level three. When we did the fortified week. I learned I am very much a port over sherry person.
Ute: Mm-hmm. . Yes. Same.
Ali: I will take a port any day over a glass of sherry.
Ute: 100%. Yep. Well, the nice thing about port is, of course, you can drink it well either by itself, with literally any dessert. But also, and I can’t get this out of my head, with a cheese board! And all I can think about is Brie.
Ali: That’d be really yummy with this.
Ute: You know, Brie, maybe some hazelnuts, some dried apricots, you know, something like that and some port go with it. I think that makes an amazing combination.
Ali: Well, after that Women in Wine holiday party we were at in McMinville.
Ali: And we went over to HiFi Wine Bar. All of this is not… they are not sponsoring us. These are just places we visit.
Ali: You got the port with the blue cheese pairing.
Ali: And I cannot do blue cheese… I’m allergic. So I got the port with the potato chips and crème fraîche.
Ali: And I take your word for it, that the blue cheese pairing was delicious with it.
Ute: It was so good.
Ali: The crème fraîche and potato chips were phenomenal with it.
Ali: It was such, it was so perfect. Like perfect end of the night.
Ute: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. The port really cut through that spice of the blue cheese, so that made it a really great wine to go with that.
Ali: Yeah. Nice.
Ute: So, but you have a special woman that you’re gonna be telling us about today, so I’m gonna just hand it over to you while I drink some port over here.
Ali: All righty, sounds good. Okay, so this week I want to talk about Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira . She is a powerhouse when it comes to port wines and is considered to be a contemporary of another lady that we have, Ute has chatted about in a previous episode: Madame Veuve Clicquot. You’ll notice actually quite a few similarities between an Antonio’s story and a few other women that we’ve discussed previously, and I’m sure that we will discuss in the future. So, Antónia Adelaide Ferreira was born on July 4th, 1811 in, pardon my pronunciations on these, Peso da Regua, Portugal.
Her family was already pretty well established in the wine industry as still wine producers and port traders. Her grandfather actually started the first Portuguese family owned Porthouse in the Douro Valley. Not much is ever really mentioned about her younger years. But in 1834, at age 23, her father married her off to her cousin, Antonio Bernardo II.
Ute: I cannot even imagine.
Ali: Oh, just wait. Because by all the sources and reports that I found about him, he was kind of a… meh guy. He lived very extravagantly and was very reckless with money and made poor investments that basically lost them most of his inheritance, like most of their fortune. He was just like “merrp! Squander!”
So, 10 years after getting… this is how meh! he is… 10 years after getting married, he dies. No sources say how he dies. It’s just, he’s gone, he’s done. Out of the picture!
Ute: I guess he just not that important!
Ali: So, Antónia is 33 years old with two kids. That marriage had produced two kids. And she is now facing down all of these family businesses and trying to function in life as a widow, as a mother. But she was just like, you know what? All right, let’s get to work!
Immediately takes over all the business ventures and starts making some changes. So she cuts ties with all of her late husband’s deals and puts all of that money towards port and the Douro Valley.
She believed very strongly in the potential of the Douro Valley as a prominent winemaking region in its own right, because at the time most of Portugal’s wine was being made with wine imported from Spain. Antónia was so business savvy that one source I found said she was known as “the most prominent landowner in the Douro Valley.”
Ute: I love it.
Ali: And boasted “one of the largest fortunes in Portugal at that time.” There were no, there were no numbers given towards her fortune, but I mean, this woman. She’s a powerhouse.
Ute: This gave me goosebumps, literally
Ali: I’m speechless.
Ute: I’m not even joking.
Ali: So a lot of things that I read used the same descriptors for her: “great courage, enterprising spirit, entrepreneur.” She knew what she wanted. She knew she had the ability to run these businesses and did!
So she was known to always be studying innovative wine production techniques and staying on top of business trends. She fought for the rights of local farmers because the government support was basically non-existent for them during tough times.
Like I said, she also believed Portugal could produce quality wine and fought with the government to take grape growing and winemaking seriously in Portugal and the Douro Valley. Then in the 1860s, this pesky little bug called Phylloxera was introduced to the vines in Portugal, and yeah, that is a really weird word! So, Ute, can you please tell us what Phylloxera is?
Ute: Phylloxera, my precious. See what I did there?
Okay, so as you said already, Phylloxera really is a pesky little bug. As a matter of fact, it is microscopically small. So Phylloxera originated in the United States. It feeds on the rootstock of vines. Now, American rootstock has evolved to tolerate Phylloxera.
It has a couple of ways of protecting itself. First, it creates this sticky sap and basically glues to Phylloxera’s little hungry mouth shut, which , I just love that so much!
Ali: So gross!
Ute: And second, it creates a protective layer behind the wounds created by the Phylloxera, and so doesn’t get infected. Of course they didn’t know about that in the 1860s.
And so American rootstock was introduced to European vineyards, of course, including Portugal. And initially everything went well. The infection caused by Phylloxera takes a while to show. So initially nobody knows that anything is wrong. But then within five years, vintners around Europe, started noticing their vines dying for no apparent reason.
To this day, almost all over the world, American rootstock is used in the vineyards while the European vines called vitis vinifera are grafted onto the rootstock because it produces better quality wine. But that is also a topic for another episode. I’m gonna take it right back to you!
Ali: So the farmers really struggled with how to fight this plague. Many treated their vineyards with harsh chemicals, obviously to no avail. And apparently you can still see some of these mor Oh, another one of these pronunciations, sorry.
Ute: mortuary… mortuaries!
Ali: Translated to “death beds” when traveling through the Portuguese wine country. These death beds were so damaged by the chemicals that the farmers used that they cannot be used for agriculture anymore.
Ute: Like ever again?
Ali: Yeah. They’re just dead. The ground is so destroyed.
Ute: Oh my God.
Ute: So they would have to like completely renew the soil to be able to… wow.
Ali: Yep. So eventually Antónia went to study Phylloxera effects and possible solutions, and up and coming treatments in England. Like you mentioned, Ute, it took awhile for them to even realize that their vines were dying. And then it took awhile for them to realize how to fix these dying vines and kill off these louse. And that’s where the harsh chemicals came in. So it was, so I think I read, it was like in the 1870s or 80s. It was, I mean, the Phylloxera came in in the 1860s, and it wasn’t for another decade or so until Antónia went to England to study how to get rid of Phylloxera.
But while she was there, she found some solutions, some treatments, and she came back to Portugal and started replanting the numerous vineyards that she owned and that she worked with, with the American rootstock grafted with their vines grafted on top.
And the farmers that couldn’t afford to replant or even keep their vineyards during this time, because they’re obviously not selling a crop or making a profit, she made a plan to purchase their vineyards from them, thus saving the vineyard, her future with these vineyards, and the farmers and giving the farmers much needed money to stay afloat in such tumultuous times.
Ali: Yeah. I read a source she, after her death, was known as a saint among these farmers.
Ute: Oh my gosh.
And in case you didn’t think she had done enough just in the wine industry and the port trade, she is also known for her contributions to public works like infrastructure and hospitals.
Like this woman Does. It. All! She has a few, I don’t even wanna call them nicknames because they are such terms of endearment by her country and her ancestors, but she is often referred to as either Ferreirinha, little Ferreira, or the mãe dos pobres, which is mother of the poor. And I know I butchered that pronunciation. I am sorry.
So, Dona Antónia passed away in 1896, leaving behind a couple dozen vineyards that she owned, a massively successful port trade and still wine production, and a highly respected legacy. Her heirs put together an LLC, that they affectionately called Casa Ferreirinha. And thanks to that LLC, Dona Antónia’s legacy is still thriving today through, I believe it’s called… I mean, it’s spelled as so grape.
Ute: Yeah. So Grape!
Ali: … where they produce wines based on her values of ethics, respect, and solidarity. There was so much information about Antónia that I want, like I could have kept writing about her, but this episode would’ve been so long, so I’m just gonna leave this quote from, so Grape. Their take on Antonio’s legacy is “She combined the importance of tradition and technical innovation in viticulture and wine production, and by making the quality of wines the driving force behind this company.”
Ute: Wow, that’s an amazing person! I mean, we have all amazing people on this podcast, but it’s, I don’t know, to me, you know, talking about these women and the drive that they had and this passion for their work makes me really kind of sit here and go, wow. I could do so much better! And, you know, not that I’m not doing well, so don’t, don’t get that the wrong way.
I’m not like trying to poopoo myself here. No. But I feel like, you know, oftentimes, especially in the winter, like, you know, I’m so overwhelmed with everything. I feel like life is just too much and, and it’s dark and it’s dreary and you know, I’m going, oh my gosh, when am I gonna do all of the things that I wanted to do?
I’m so busy. Well, look at people like her and Veuve Clicquot and you know, these, these other women that we’ve covered in this podcast, and I’m just blown away.
Ali: Mm-hmm. I think one of the things that resonated with me about Antónia so much is it wasn’t just the wine industry that she immersed herself in. She loved her community.
Ali: She loved her, her country so much and saw such potential in it that she was willing to fight for the farmers that were struggling. She was willing, I was reading one of the sources, said that she was so comfortable being at a farmer’s house. And then immediately going to the palace and she was so comfortable interacting with all people from all walks of life.
Ali: And she was able to get shit done.
Ali: Like, ugh. So cool.
Ute: That is super cool. And that’s why I’m saying I could do so much better. You know, there’s, there’s… we have such potential. You know, I was talking to Jenna White. And that episode is not gonna air for another couple of weeks.
But I was interviewing her and she’s the GM at Dundee and she holds a board position for the Dundee Hills Wine Growers Association and, and she does like a bunch of other stuff and she’s like this uber busy lady, but she is so fun to talk to and so upbeat and friendly, and she always comes up with these ideas.
You know, it was like, oh, let’s do this for women in the wine industry. Boom! It’s done.
Ute: So that makes me just be in awe of, of all of these women that are out there who are doing such great things in their communities. And especially when it comes to this wine industry. I, I just love again, and, and I, I know I mention these ladies all the time, you know, Tiquette Bramlett with Our Legacy Harvested. McBride sisters. Mayor Remy Drabkin here in McMinville. Mayor… mayor of freaking, she’s a mayor of McMinville, but she also grows her own wine and she’s, you know, in the LGBTQ+ community and, and has like created her own wine festival that happened for the first time this past summer.
Ali: Oh, that’s cool. Nice.
Ute: And. Yeah, powerhouses of women and I’m just always so blown away and so inspired. And with that, honestly, if you are out there and you are in the wine industry or you know of someone in the wine industry and you would love to either talk to us or have them talk to us, we are always looking.
And not just in Oregon. Literally everywhere where there’s wine, wine growing and you speak English, we would absolutely love an opportunity to interview you.
Ali: Yes. We would love to learn more about what you’re working on, how you did it. Just everything. We just like learning .
Ute: Yeah. Yes, we do like learning
That’s why we keep signing up for these courses.
Ali: Yes. Oh my gosh.
Ute: So, yeah, I guess at this point we, we are done again. See it always goes so fast, doesn’t it?
Ali: I know, I know.
Ute: Anyway, thank you so much for tuning in again this week to hear all about Antónia and of course our lovely port that I will be finishing off here in just a moment.
Do remember to check out the show notes. We have a couple of nice free downloads for you now, including a guide for 30 wine related must-read books including reference books, memoirs, and novels. Leave us a rating, a review. Share us with your friends and family if you believe that they would also enjoy our show.
Ali: And you can find more content from us between episodes on Instagram at @thru_thegrapewine or in our new private Facebook group at Through the Grape Wine VIPs. Join us and let us know what wines you’re enjoying at the moment, or if you have any questions or recommendations for us. We truly love hearing from you. We have had some really quality engagement already.
Ali: I am loving it. I, I don’t go on Facebook that often and I have found myself on Facebook every day this last week!
Ute: Well, I am on Facebook often. So to see the list. Oh, to see the group grow already.
Ali: Oh my gosh.
Ute: And again, to get that engagement from people just makes my heart sing.
Ali: It’s so fun. And questions are being asked and recommendations are being thrown out. It’s, it’s great. Like I can already see vulnerability in there.
Ali: And that I want that to be a space where people feel safe and confident in asking whatever question they feel. So…
Ute: You do have to be a woman.
Ali: Yes. Sorry.
Ute: Okay. I’m sorry. You’ve got to identify as a woman. Okay.
Ute: This is, this is what we’re going for.
Well, and with that, really all we have left to say of course, is