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Quinta da Palmirinha

Fernando Paiva

About

Owner & winemaker: Fernando Paiva
Vineyards: 3ha across two parcels, all estate-owned
Vineyard management: Certified organic since 2004, Demeter-certified biodynamic since 2007
Soils: Schist and granite
Grapes grown: Loureiro, Azal, Arinto
Annual production: 15,000 bottles

Quick facts:

  • Quinta da Palmirinha was one of the first certified biodynamic estates in Portugal and is part of a wave of quality-focused producers redefining what Vinho Verde wine can be.
  • Fernando’s innovative use of dried chestnut flowers as an antioxidant has been catching on with other producers in Portugal and Europe.
  • The philosophy in the winery is to “help only with what nature can’t do alone.”

Quinta da Palmirinha is named after Fernando’s grandmother Palmirinha, who purchased the estate in 1909–the name literally translates to “Palmirinha’s farm.” After retiring as a high school teacher in 2004, Fernando returned to the estate and began making organic and biodynamic wines. The family tradition is set to continue with his grandson, who is currently pursuing a degree in oenology and will one day take over the estate from Fernando.

Vinho Verde is one of the better known wine regions in Portugal, synonymous with the light, gently fizzy, uncomplicated white wine pumped out in boatloads by large producers and cooperatives. Fernando’s wines are quite decidedly not that. Instead, he’s producing serious, still white wines from the indigenous local grape varieties with a hands-off winemaking approach–part of a revival of artisanal, quality-focused producers in the region. The climate here is strongly influenced by the Atlantic, with frequent rain and high humidity. It takes constant care and immense viticultural knowledge to grow healthy fruit in these conditions without resorting to chemical sprays, but if anyone can do it, it’s Fernando–he was one of the pioneers of biodynamic farming in Portugal and was the only certified producer for many years.

Fernando is on the leading edge of avant-garde low intervention winemaking as well. His signature technique is the use of crushed dried chestnut flowers as an antioxidant: he harvests flowers from his biodynamically-grown chestnut trees, dries them, and then mechanically crushes them before adding a small amount to the grape juice during fermentation as a replacement for sulfur. The method is getting attention from other winemakers in Portugal and Europe. Beyond that, the wines are spontaneously fermented in stainless steel at cool temperatures, with no fining, filtration, or cold stabilization. The goal is to make wines that are enjoyable and expressive of the terroir.