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Rita Soares

CEO Herdade da Malhadinha Nova

She was born in Lisbon and also completed her further education in the capital. She then headed south, postponing her career in training to dedicate herself to managing Garrafeira Soares, a family business, now the Algarve’s largest wine and spirits distribution company. It was also with her family that she acquired an estate in the Alentejo in 1998. Today, besides dedicating itself to much more than what it set out to, Herdade da Malhadinha Nova has brilliantly and passionately fulfilled its purpose: to produce high quality wines.
Rita Soares
Herdade da Malhadinha Nova came into being thanks to a dream of the Soares family of which you are part. What circumstances let to 1998 becoming the ideal year to start the project?
1998 was indeed very special, as it was marked by the birth of our first daughter. Today, two nephews further complete the family’s youngest generation. It was also in 1998 that our family was in a position to make this investment, with the purchase of the estate. It was in that same year that the entire family made the commitment to devote their energy, efforts, enthusiasm and passion to a new life project.

How would you define the wines from Herdade da Malhadinha Nova?
The 100% organic regime in our vineyard, the respect for the terroir and the constant focus on stimulating biodiversity in the vineyard, the thinning of bunches when young, harvesting grapes by hand, and only at night, the winemaking in the winery that works by gravity, treading the grapes in shallow tanks, the introduction of fermentation with native yeasts, these are some of the details that set Herdade da Malhadinha Nova wines apart and which reflect the life philosophy of the people making them.

The labels are designed by the youngest generation of the family. Is this a way to make them part of the project too?
Francisca was born in 1998, the year when we bought the estate; in 2001 she symbolically planted the first vinestock. The idea of challenging Francisca to design the first label was, first and foremost, a way of conveying the family’s passion and their commitment to producing very special wines; secondly, it represented our desire to connect the younger generation to the evolution and development of a life project.
«It was in that same year that the entire family made the commitment to devote their energy, efforts, enthusiasm and passion to a new life project»
What else does the estate produce/do, in addition to wines?
In addition to the wines, which is the main area of the project, the estate is dedicated to the production of olive oil, livestock - rearing PDO Alentejana cows, PDO porco preto pigs, white and black merina sheep, also PDO, (all breeds raised on the estate are native), breeding thoroughbred Lusitano horses and tourism, with a restaurant and a charm hotel.

What will be the next steps to make the project grow?
We are renovating several ruins on the property as part of a phase of expansion and enlarging the tourism project. The goal is to offer a luxury tourism concept that favours contact with nature and time, as one of mankind’s scarcest resources. The expansion and modernisation of the winery will be the next step and investment.
T. Maria Amélia Pires
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