On my recent visit to Quinta Nova in the Douro (which I have just written up here), I came across a large granite stone with the imprint ‘Feitoria 1758′. This is one of the stones used to demarcate the limits of the Douro wine growing region. A bit of history.
In brief, Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, the Marquis de Pombal, undertook an important revision of the limits of Port production in 1756. His motivation was to solve an economic crisis, caused by problems of over-production and adulteration of Port wines, which were then largely being sold by British merchants in Porto.
In 1758, and later in 1761, 335 of these Feitoria were plonked down at points indicated on the map that Pombal commissioned. 103 remain standing, including this one at Quinta Nova. The Douro was officially the world’s first wine region to be demarcated, and Pombal’s efforts (which included the founding of the Real Companhia Velha and the uprooting of elderberry bushes) brought some much needed stability to the Port industry.