Diogo Lopes and AdegaMãe – The Uncharted Vineyards of Lisboa: A Dance of Terroir, Tradition, and Climate Resilience

Wine Producers

Diogo Lopes and AdegaMãe – The Uncharted Vineyards of Lisboa: A Dance of Terroir, Tradition, and Climate Resilience

Diogo Lopes is one of the rising stars of the new generation of winemakers in Portugal but does not want to leave his imprint in the bottle. The location is everything for Diogo Lopes. “The place’s own identity should shine through.”

Meet Diogo Lopes: A Winemaker with a Passion for Crafting Unique Wines

After joining the EU in 1986, much has changed in the wine country of Portugal. Cooperatives closed, investments and subsidies modernised winemaking, and winemakers became travelling consultants. One of those working on various projects is Diogo Lopes, who is 43 years old. He has practised in Mendoza and Napa Valley, which aroused particular interest in each locality’s unique imprint. He is now involved in eight projects in Portugal in five wine regions. He runs two of them with Anselmo Mendes, who has been a mentor for Diogo Lopes.

“I got to know him while studying agronomy, and we have been working together since 2001. He said, ‘come harvest with me and see if you like it’.” And Diogo obviously did.

Winemaker Diogo Lopes in the AdegaMãe winery.
Winemaker Diogo Lopes in the AdegaMãe winery. (Photo: Fredrik Åkerman)

Consultant Winemakers and the Art of Preserving Unique Identities

The fact that winemakers work for several producers does not necessarily imply uniformity, although the risk exists. “Sure, you can see the winemaker’s style shine through in some, but I don’t want that. It should not be evident that I have made the wine. The place has its own identity, and that is what should be smelled and tasted. Although it is, of course, a challenge.”

Discover AdegaMãe: Where the Atlantic Spirit is Bottled and Unleashed

At AdegaMãe, Diogo Lopes has succeeded in his ambition. This winery outside Lisbon captures the refreshing spirit of the Atlantic in the bottle. At a tasting at Cork in Stockholm earlier this year, it was clear that behind the label is a salt-splashed place that the winemaker can handle. Although they stored some white wines in barrels and stirred up the yeast sediments regularly, the wines had lively acidity and aromatic intensity. The barrels provide structure and balance – not flavour.

“In Portugal, winemaking is quite old-fashioned, often fermenting in open vats and ageing in cement. French oak and stirring the yeast precipitation is new to us, but I like it – if you are careful. It adds complexity and structure to the wine but should never take over and dominate.”

The oak barrel cellar of the AdegaMãe winery.
The oak barrel cellar of the AdegaMãe winery. (Photo: Fredrik Åkerman)

AdegaMãe’s Distinctive Blend of Local and International Grape Varieties and the Unexplored Riesling

The grape varieties at AdegaMãe are primarily local, but a few wines have been spiked with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. “For about 30 years, adding some international grapes around Lisbon has become a tradition. We are experimenting. But you can still feel the local tradition.”

The Atlantic Ocean means that the climate, despite the latitude, is relatively cool and similar to that of northern Europe. This got the owner of AdegaMãe thinking about Riesling. Diogo was quick to applaud the idea. Now, the farm has two hectares (five acres). “We planted Riesling in 2011, and I’m happy about it. We do it in a dry style and age it for five years in steel tanks to maximise the saltiness.”

However, Riesling is a rarity in Portugal. Diogo guesses that barely ten wine producers grow the grape variety. And he does not think that there will be many more, even though it thrives. “The future lies in all our local grape varieties to preserve originality, and it is where the interest and demand are.”

The main hall of the AdegaMãe winery, with all the stainless steel tanks.
The main hall of the AdegaMãe winery, with all the stainless steel tanks. (Photo: Fredrik Åkerman)

The Visionary Journey of AdegaMãe: From Cod Industry Expert to Creating a Winery from Scratch with Passion and Purpose

Diogo Lopes has worked with AdegaMãe since the start in 2010. He describes it as a journey, a learning process. The owner has a background in the cod industry and built everything from scratch.

“Working closely with the architects who built the winery was incredibly exciting. They were very flexible and keen to make it functional”, says Diogo, making it clear that form can easily take precedence over function. “If you leave architects to themselves, it doesn’t always turn out well.”

A cement egg tank in the AdegaMãe winery.
A cement egg tank in the AdegaMãe winery. (Photo: Fredrik Åkerman)

From Crispy Whites to Juicy Reds: Exploring the Unique Terroir of Lisboa Wine Region

The vineyards are located by the sea (eight kilometres or five miles from the coast) and a bit further inland. “The Lisboa wine region has two different cultivation areas. At the Atlantic are crispy white wines with acidity, saltiness and minerality. On the other side of the mountains are balanced, juicy red wines with good fruit and soft tannins.”

Black grape varieties were also grown on the coast when the project started. But Diogo Lopes, with his interest in the specific locality, saw how acidic the soil was and realised that the limestone soil was better suited for white grapes. Said and done, they pulled up the black ones and planted white except for a bit of Pinot Noir. It’s easy to understand Diogo’s parallels to northern Europe; Riesling and Pinot Noir are common in Germany.

Some of the vineyards at the AdegaMãe estate.
Some of the vineyards at the AdegaMãe estate. (Photo: Fredrik Åkerman)

Climate Change: Contrasting Impacts in Portugal – Discover the Resilient Atlantic Coast

Thus, our conversation slides naturally into climate change. “Of course, it is also noticeable in Portugal, but the impact differs from region to region. Climate change spares us pretty much here on the Atlantic coast. The change is not so noticeable. We have fresh air from the sea and do not need to irrigate. It is one of the best places in the country for viticulture.”

Lisboa Wine Region: A Tapestry of Terroir and Complexity

The Lisboa wine region’s complex growing conditions with both coast and inland explain why the wine region has as many as nine designations of origin in a relatively small area. AdegaMãe is located in the one called DOC Torres Vedras.

The Resilience of Lisboa’s Viticulture: A Tale of Adaptability and Artistry

The Lisboa wine region is a testament to viticulture’s resilience and adaptability in the face of changing climate conditions. The unique interplay between coastal and inland attributes, combined with the expertise of viticulturists like Diogo Lopes, results in a tapestry of fine wines teeming with complexity and character. From the crisp, acidic white wines of the Atlantic coast to the balanced, fruity reds of the inland terrains, there’s a story in every bottle that speaks of the terroir of Lisboa. Climate change may indeed be an immense challenge. Still, as far as the Atlantic coast of Portugal is concerned, viticulture will continue to flourish, reminding us of the enduring connection between nature, adaptability and the art of winemaking.