Artisanal Wines and Conversation at Quinta da Faísca in the Douro Valley
Singular, handcrafted wines centered around dialogue. That’s the philosophy that embodies the profile of Secret Spot Wines, a project launched by Gonçalo Sousa Lopes, agricultural engineer, and Rui Cunha, oenologist, aiming to produce wines of the best quality in Portugal’s Douro region.
Address: Quinta da Faísca 270, 5070 Favaios, Portugal
The duo, whose experience in the world of wine is extensive, challenged themselves to take advantage of the five senses and introduce visitors to a unique sensory experience that involved the immersive process of tracing the wine to the grape. At Quinta da Faísca, which translates to “ estate of the ‘spark’ ” and encapsulates the production area of Secret Spot Wines, all the elements, both architectural, experiential and natural, point to the understanding that right conditions are crucial for the production of their wines.
To achieve their guiding tenets, Lopes and Cunha called upon the architect Carlos Castanheira, who wrote about the initial “spark” of the design process as being both convivial and open. “I am asked to lunch at the Quinta da Faísca, Alto Douro Vinhateiro, Favaios. This way of beginning architecture with a lunch is an interesting one, and full of flavours, smells and conversation.”
Based on this dialogue, Castanheira pointed out the presence of history, tradition and good wine at the location, while conceding to the necessity of renovating and adapting the winery to new technologies and standards that would at once be able to host curious tourists and keen locals, while developing substantial commercial activity.
The original construction of the existing winery dates back to 1946. The vintners rehabilitated the vineyard so small plots could be subject to different styles of winemaking. Castanheiro integrated the winery into the landscape, respecting the surrounding geology and combining the existing granite with materials like timber and glass.
"Through its prize-winning structure and its proprietors’ attention to detail, Quinta da Faísca has become an inspiring place, where the novelty of wine tourism is highlighted through tailored guided visits."
Because of their location, Secret Spot Wines are produced from very old vines, ranging in age from 50 to 60 years. The 20 hectare property is located at 650 meters of altitude, and it has 16 hectares of vineyards. Perched on a plateau high above Pinhão on the Douro river, the production does not come without difficulties. For example, old vines produce almost ten times less than new vines, despite the fact that they produce superior wines. In the steep, terraced vineyards of the Douro, not easily accessed or managed, the wine retains character, and its exclusivity is a welcome challenge for the produced results.
Through its prize-winning structure and its proprietors’ attention to detail, Quinta da Faísca has become an inspiring place, where the novelty of wine tourism is highlighted through tailored guided visits. Visitors can expect to be accompanied into a balmy tasting room with full-height windows across the vineyard. There is also an on-site kitchen in a venue space, and reservations for accompanying meals can be made. As the philosophy is centered around dialogue, don't hesitate to express your preferences: the experts will be sure to find something for every taste.