This June, the Klevia is travelling from Penzance to Portugal and back to pick up 1 tonne of wine from our dear partners at Miss Vitis vineyards. This particular load is destined for the bar and restaurant at The Pig at Harlyn Bay in Cornwall and will be available throughout the summer – as long as stocks last. We’re excited to launch into this wholesale adventure with the team at The Pig, especially with such fantastic wine!
Miss Vitis makes fresh, live, natural and vegan wines with wild yeasts and organic methods in the upper Corgo of the Douro, one of the first protected designation of origin regions, as well as further south in the Beira Interior. Klevia will be charging its hull with Bal da Madre Red and Bal da Madre White, from the grapes grown in Miss Vitis’ Beira Interior vineyard.
For those of you who prefer to enjoy a glass at home, these two wines will soon be available to pre-order in 2l bag-in-boxes on our online shop, along with a selection from our partners Lapa dos Reis.
Our collaboration with The Pig is in huge part thanks to Debbie Warner, who joined the New Dawn Traders team earlier this year as our go-to wine expert. She is the founder of Wild Wine Club and Wild Wine School near St Austell, Cornwall, where she shares her enthusiasm for sustainable viticulture and minimal intervention wine-making through a range of wine courses for all interest levels.
Debbie has worked with the team at The Pig, Harlyn Bay both as a wholesaler and as a wine trainer for several members of their team. Keen to bring wines over to the UK by sail, Debbie suggested a wholesale cargo sail trial to the sommelier team at The Pig. The team were sold, and before long Debbie had travelled to Portugal in December 2021 with The Pig sommeliers Greg Turner and Luke Harbor to meet Gui Taveira, the grandson of Miss Vitis’ founder and one of the people continuing his family’s wine legacy today.
During their visit to Gil’s Douro vineyard in December 2021, in the middle of the cold season when the grapes from the autumn harvest were fermenting and vine pruning was wrapping up, we were lucky enough to get a few moments with Gil Taveira.
NDT: Your Beira Interior wines, such as the Bal da Madre wines (available at The Pig, Harlyn Bay this summer) stand out as being fresh and aromatic. What’s the secret?
GT: The Beira Interior is fantastic because it has a thermic amplitude that allows for a much longer period of maturation of the grapes, which is quite different compared to what happens in the Douro. The altitude and the fresh and cool thermic amplitude of the Beira Interior are crucial conditions to create our fresh and aromatic organic wines.
These characteristics are also affected by different altitudes and by the soil and the terroir of the region. In the Douro, the soil is mostly shale whereas in the Beira Interior there is a lot more granite, a bit of quartz, as well as shale along the border between the Douro and the Beira.
Bal da Madre wines represent the soul and essence of Beira Interior, which is the highest winery region in Portugal. Their unmatched freshness, aromatic exuberance, and natural acidity are the purest reflection of this terroir.
NDT: How does teamwork fit into the success of Miss Vitis?
GT: When you are chasing your dream, you need to have the right people around you who believe in that dream as well and are willing to chase it with you.
The designer of the labels on my wines is a very good friend of mine. For the wine-making itself, I work with a winemaker friend who has many more years of experience and is an invaluable help to me in the production – he is a fundamental piece in the business.
Without these friends working beside me, I honestly don’t know if I would’ve made it as far as I have because this is a lot of hard work and you need to love what you do in order to go that extra mile and make it happen.
NDT: Why do you choose to ship some of your wine by sail?
GT: This goes back again to the importance of friendship in this project, which has proven to be fundamental in the creation and sustenance of Miss Vitis.
My good friend Edgar – who designed the bottle logo – came round for dinner one-day several years ago and explained the concept of sail cargo to me. He told me about his friend Marije [Passos, of Passeite olive oil] who shipped her oil to the UK by boat. Sail cargo made perfect sense to me in terms of respecting the environment and leaving as little of a footstep as possible. It goes in line with our own views on agriculture and minimal intervention, and it sounded like an interesting project to be involved in.
We were still relatively new in the wine market when we began with New Dawn Traders, [so this form of transport] was a good way to support our business. But beyond that, we really identified with the integrity of the project itself, of the values that sail cargo projects represent in leaving the world a better place for future generations. This all ties together with leaving a bit of a legacy and ensuring that this work continues beyond me, beyond our generation.
New Dawn Traders: What is your role here at Miss Vitis?
Gil Taveira: I am most involved in the process from harvest onward: wine production, sales and marketing. But because this is a very small business and I have a relatively close relationship with most of the people that buy my wine I am in a position where I can do a little bit of everything.
NDT: What drives you?
GT: This work is what I love to do. Of course, this is a business, and we all need to work and make money because this is the world we live in. But really I do this work for sentimental reasons. I am just a small part of the bigger story. I am a small part of a group effort.
This vineyard was started by my grandfather who is from the Vinho Verde region in the Minho, who got married to my grandmother from the Douro, bought some land in the Douro and planted vines with the dream of making wine. He started this dream and the business which I continue today.
NDT: Do you have a particular approach to making good wine?
GT: Everything that we do in the vineyards – on a daily, weekly and monthly basis – is important to make a good wine. Our wine grapes are like diamonds in the rough and we need to take good care of them. Perhaps a comparison that I could make would be with a newborn child and how delicate and small they are and how much potential they hold within themselves for greatness.
For instance, at harvest time once the grapes reach the winery, every small step – from the cleanliness to the way that the grapes are handled – is fundamental in the process of making a good wine. Harvesting in the autumn is a busy and very important time because there is a lot of responsibility. It is the combination of an entire year’s worth of work and effort. If you get things wrong then you have to wait another year for a chance to try again.
NDT: You have vineyards in both the Douro and in the Beira Interior regions. How do these differ?
GT: In the Douro, we produce the traditional kinds of wines, wines with a lot of body, a lot of tannins. These are red varieties like Touriga Nacional, Touriga França, tinta Roriz, or white grape varietals like rabigato, gouveio, or viosinho. This is where Miss Vitis’ Fraga do Calvo and Port Wines originate.
The grapes in our Bal da Madre wines, however, are grown in our vineyard in the Beira Interior region. A few years ago we were challenged to produce an organic wine, which embarked us on a bit of an adventure. Our intention was to enter the organic wine market but also to make a wine a bit different from the ones that are produced in the Douro region. These generally have a lower percentage of alcohol than the wines we produce in the Douro too.