Due to the large slope of the terrain and the large proportion of stones in the soil, this situation complicates the establishment of vineyards. The vines are grown on terraces, the technique of which has historically changed.

Vineyards in Douro Valley are really amazing

The cultivation of vineyards used to be very demanding for manual human labor, with the development of mechanization it was necessary to adapt the construction of vineyards. Therefore, we can find the following three methods of landscaping:

Traditional stone terraces – Socalcos

The oldest vineyards built in this way are narrow strips of flat surface supported above each other by stone walls. They are the result of hard work, when all these activities were performed by workers by hand using hoes, hammers and various crowbars. Dynamite was often involved.

The main vineyard in Quinta de Vargellas is built using the socalcos method

Few spacious terraces were planted with only one or two rows of vines, so they do not allow higher yields from the planted area and currently this technology of planting vineyards is rarely used.

Socalcos terraces near Pinhão

These unique local buildings are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with various governmental and non – governmental organizations providing vineyards with subsidies for the restoration of abandoned vineyards after the epidemic in 1870, the so – called mortórios – morgue.

A vineyard abandoned after the epidemic of phylloxera near the town of Pocinho

Platforms – Patamares

Patamares are modern terraces created by mechanization. They are no longer secured by stone walls like socalcos, but are separated by massive earthen ramparts. This vineyard technology became widespread after 1970, when much of the Doure’s slopes were rebuilt, including some mortórios.

Using of mechanization in the construction of patamares (credit:
Future patamare vineyard in Vale do Mendiz

However, the relative ease and speed of establishing this type of vineyard brings with it a number of problems. Above all, susceptibility to soil erosion, but also greater growth of weeds and grass, which is associated with higher use of nature-laden chemical sprays.

Horizontal ramparts of the patamares vineyards on the road from Provesende

Vertical planting – Vinha ao Alto

In places where the slope allows, vineyards can be planted not on terraces, but directly perpendicular to the slope along the slope.

Vertically planted Vinha ao Alto vineyards (credit:

Among other things, this modern system enables 100 % use of mechanization and thus more efficient agrotechnical procedures with a final higher yield and lower impact on the environment.

System Vinha ao Alto near Pinhão town

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