This month we are shining a spotlight on Sandra Tavares, the wonderfully talented Winemaker at Wine & Soul, who also works at her family winery, Quinta de Chocapalha. Sandra talks about her favourite part of the winemaking process and shares how she was recently named Portuguese winemaker of the year, an amazing achievement and very well deserved!
Q: Tell us about you and your role as winemaker for your family estate Quinta de Chocapalha and your own Estate Wine & Soul?
I have been the chief winemaker at Quinta de Chocapalha since we started in 2000, and at Wine&Soul I make wine together with Jorge Serôdio Borges, my husband. Two very unique projects – family-owned, demanding huge commitment and passion, but in very different regions, Lisbon and Douro.
Q: Can you tell us about the different regions in Portugal for each of the estates? How would you describe the differences between the wines?
Quinta de Chocapalha is located in the Lisbon wine region, which is a long coastal region with a beautiful Atlantic influence. This gives a mild climate, humidity, big diurnal temperature swing which, allied with clay-calcareous soils, provides a long ripening season. The wines have great acidity, good phenolic compounds and huge ageing capacity. Wine&Soul is located in the Douro, more precisely in Pinhão Valley.We have always been focused on and fascinated by old vines, so we have acquired several little plots in different areas. In 2009, we bought Quinta da Manoella, an estate that was in Jorge’s family for five generations. Our mission is to produce unique wines with a sense of place – field blends made from very old vines.
Q: What is your favourite part of the wine making process and why?
For me it is understanding the vineyards and gaining more knowledge and precision vintage after vintage. However all the steps in the winemaking process are very challenging and interesting, from fermentation (including all the decisions involved), blending, and of course promoting and sharing our stories and wines!
Q: Did you always have a passion for wine? And can you share with us how you ended up becoming a winemaker?
Not really for wine, but since a very young age I loved to be at my family’s estate and being part of the many tasks. It was always where I felt at peace and happy! So, naturally, I studied Agronomy and Oenology to continue my parents project at Quinta de Chocapalha!
Q: We know you were recently awarded a very special accolade; can you share what this this was and how that made you feel?
I received the award of Winemaker of the Year in Portugal. It meant a lot to me, as it is an amazing recognition of our work and especially because I felt the warmth from many other winemakers that I really admire!
Q: When you are not making wine what might we find you doing?
Spending time with my family, they are my treasure and the best way to spend all my free time, that is not much!
Q: Finally what advice would you offer to anyone wanting to become a winemaker?
For me the key words for a winemaker are: Dedication, Passion, Resilience, Precision, Sensibility!