In the last decade Alentejo recorded a steady growth in wine production, counteracted only in 2012 (Table 2), with a sharp drop caused by the weather of that year. In 2004 the Alentejo Region had 13,500 Ha of vineyards and produced about 650 Hl of wine, numbers that contributed to the increase in international trade.
The Comissão Vitivinícola Regional Alentejana (Alentejo Regional Wine Commission) is responsible for the certification of all the Alentejo wines. RDO Alentejo wines and Alentejo Regional wine are also responsible for promoting Vinhos do Alentejobrand in the domestic and international markets. These two quality certifications have contributed greatly to the recognition of the region and the quality of its wines.
For the production of a wine with these certifications, several quality standards are pplied which assess, for example, varieties used, the methods for certifying the whole process of production and bottling.
These quality certifications favour the preservation of the Terroir of the region with a selection of cultural practices of grape varieties and authorized techniques, as well as the wines designations. Certification is therefore a way of ensuring the quality brand image.
The Alentejo's most characteristic image is the plain. The region has a very flat terrain, and the absence of large mountain formations does not provide condensation of atmospheric moisture. However, the existing mountain formations condition and create essential climatic differences to characterize the eight wine-growing sub-regions of Alentejo: Portalegre, Borba, Redondo, Vidigueira, Reguengos, Évora, Granja-Amareleja and Moura, producing Vinhos de Qualidade Produzido em Região Determinada (Quality Wines Produced in Determined Region), known as VQPRD.
The mountainous formations in the region are: the Serras (mountains) of Portel protecting sub-region of Vidigueira (421 m), the Serra de Ossa, protecting the region of Redondo (649 m), and the Serra de São Mamede (1625 m). The last two elevations are the formation of a micro climate of a differentiator terroir.
The southern location and the absence of important reliefs are responsible for the characteristic Mediterranean and continental climate of the region. The insulation has very high values, which is reflected in the maturation of the grapes, mostly in the months preceding the harvest, giving a desirable grape concentration in the skin of the grapes.
The white grape varieties used in the Alentejo region are the Antão Vaz, Arinto, Roupeiro, Rabo de Ovelha and Chardonnay. The red grape varieties most planted are the Aragonês, Trincadeira, Periquita, Alicante Bouschet, Alfrocheiro, Moreto, Touriga Nacional, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
The introduction of so-called international grape varieties in the region came to increase the possibility that the region has of producing wines more familiar to consumers. I highlight the dynamism to adopt the best known grape varieties - one of the deciding factors in the purchase of a wine-worldwide as a way of promoting the region.
The Portuguese grape varieties are not yet known and valued at a global scale and it is therefore necessary to define a strategy to woo the consumer, which must go through firstly an already known grape variety, and invite him/her to discover the true expression of the terroir with the Portuguese grape varieties.Is this great wealth of soils, combined with eight different types of micro climate, and the different grape varieties used for the production of Alentejo wines, that makes the region express itself year after year with high quality wines.