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Setúbal Peninsula
History

 
 
The Tartessians and Phoenicians
 
In recent archeological excavations done in the Setúbal Peninsula, researchers have found wine grape seeds from the 8th century B.C., evidence of the ancient culture of wine production in this area that dates back to a period far before the formation of Portugal.
 
It is estimated that the wine producing culture in the region had been
 

originally introduced to the Iberian Peninsula – The Sado Valley – by the Tartessians around 2,000 B.C. The wine produced would have been used in the commercial trade with other civilizations. It is thought that the city of Setúbal was founded by the Phoenicians, around 1,000 B.C. The Phoenicians established trading posts in the area of Setúbal in the 10th century B.C.
 
 

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The Greeks
 
The Greeks contributed immensely during the 7th century B.C. to the development of viticulture and enhancing the art of wine production. The presence of the Greek culture is documented on beautiful ceramic vases found in the region of Alcácer do Sal, attesting to the elevated level of
 

civilization. The definitive occupation of the Peninsula in 19 B.C and the progressive "Romanization" brought a significant increase in the culture of grape vines, both in the variety as well as in the improvement of technical methods in the cultivation.
 
 

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The Moors

With the occupation of the Moors in the 8th  century, a new cycle began in the culture of vines and wine production. Although the Qur’an expressly prohibits the consumption of alcoholic beverages, the local authorities
 
 
remained complacent with the Christians, authorizing the production and commerce of wine.
 
 

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The Middle Ages
 
In the 12th century, following the establishment of the Order of Santiago and the Christian reconquest of strategic outposts such as Almada and Palmela, conditions improved enough for the re-population of the Setúbal Peninsula region and simultaneously, for the relaunching of local wine-making activities.
During the Late Middle Ages, between the 12th and 15th centuries, wine became one of the principle exports of the Setúbal Peninsula,




 
stimulated by technological advances which had been introduced by religious orders.
The age of Discoveries corresponded with the period of naval expansion that started in the 15th century and continued into the 16th century. During that period, Portugal became one of the most important economical nations, extending its empire into four continents.

 
 

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The 19th Century


In the 19th century, many figures contributed to the identity of the Setúbal Peninsula and the advancement of the regional agricultural economy. José Maria da Fonseca was one of the people in the vitivinicultural area who settled in the town of Vila Nogueira de Azeitão and founded his company in the wine industry, launching the fame and prestige of the Moscatel de Setúbal. Along with this fortified wine, José Maria da Fonseca also created the Periquita wine in 1850, a red table wine that has achieved a large international reputation nowadays.
 
The name "Periquita" has its origins in the property where the oldest Portuguese table wine would come to be produced: The Cova of Periquita.


Currently, the name often is confused with Castelão - the grape varietal from which it is produced, as well as with the own history of the company. The exportation of this wine dates back to 1881, and it won its first international award in 1888, at the Portuguese wine exposition in Berlin.

José Maria dos Santos is another one of the unforgettable figures in the history of Portuguese agriculture in general as well as in the Setúbal Peninsula- where he settled in the area of Pinhal Novo, a true «world of wine». He became known as the proprietor of the largest lasting vineyard in the world. With an area of 4,000 hectares and more than 12 million vines, between Poceirão, Rio Frio and Valdera, the vineyard registered a total annual production of 30 million barrels of wine.





 
 

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Nowadays

In the course of the history, Setúbal and "its" Peninsulas (Setúbal and Troia) have acquired an enormous prestige and importance in the wine industry. The region has also become an excellent tourist destination, thanks in part to its numerous natural parks, protected by multiple associations such Arrábida Natural Park, D. Luis Saldanha Marine Park, Sado Estuary Natural Reserve and the Protected Fossil Cliffs Area of Caparica as well as various other sites of the Natura 2000 ecological


 
network, etc. The area also has a heritage rich in diversity and historical notoriety, a good example being the Arrábida mountain area that was acknowledged as a Natural and Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The culture of vine and wine have also integrated and adapted well to modern time, being unanimously recognized as one of the "jewels" of the region, an important resource and (eno)tourism product.