Q&A with Nuno Ramilo of Ramilo Wines
What is your role?
I am very attached and connected to our wines, so I have the need to be involved in the entire process of grape and wine production, even if its in a small contribution. I do a little bit of everything, but, as “captain” of the boat, my main role is to supervise and be sure we are sailing the right course, and act as an ambassador of our family’s wines.
What are the joys and the challenges working as a family? What are the strengths that each family member brings to the table?
Working with family allows us to spend more time with our close ones, which is an unusual privilege nowadays. At the same time, we have a feeling of mission in our work, which easily gives us that extra motivation to overcome challenges when we face them.
On the other hand, the emotion that we put in everything we do, makes it difficult to be rational when we need to be, and there are moments in every business when we need to do it. I would say the biggest challenge is to put emotion aside when we are dealing with work issues that need to be delt with rationally.
In terms of family roles, mostly me, but also my father on a small scale nowadays, are involved in the daily management of the winery. My brother started working in 2013 in the winery, but is recently dedicated to other projects in technology. He and my mother act more as advisors when we need to make big decisions, which helps us a lot.
When did you realize that producing wine was your passion?
Wine was something that was always there since I was born, so maybe I didn’t give it the credit that I should, when I decided what to study at school. As I said before, after working as an engineer, I realized how lucky I was to have the chance to work in wine, and even more so in our wine region, so when I realized, it was an instant decision to quit my job and join the family winery.
When did you harvest for the first time?
My family harvests since I can remember, but the first time I was in charge of the harvest and had the chance to make my own decisions was in 2013.
Can you explain the region and your terroir?
We are located on the west coast of Portugal, in a climate strongly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. This means our vineyards are exposed to salty ocean winds and to the humidity that comes from the ocean, and makes our temperatures lower than the average in Portugal. At the same time, we are located near a mountain, called Serra de Sintra, which often forms a barrier of clouds and fog during the morning and the end of the day, meaning that only in the time between 10am and 5pm we have sunny weather. What people have done here for centuries, is to look for ways of sheltering the vineyards from the sea winds, so that in that in sunny periods we can have the highest temperature possible in the vineyards, to ripen the grapes.
When the vineyards are located right next to the ocean, in sandy soils (Colares DOC), they are trained lower to the groud, to take advantage of the radiation reflected by the sun, which helps mature the grapes. When the vineyards are located in clay soils, they are planted in steep slopes facing south, which shelter the vineyards from the sea winds.
Describe your philosophy in one word or sentence.
The land has spoken.
What is your favourite wine? What bottle is open in your kitchen right now?
All the wines we make have a connection with us, but in every harvest, there is a wine that touches us deeply, and it varies in every different harvest. Wines from the Colares DOC are always special, because of their personality, but I would say, right now, the one who is surprising me the most, because of the way it’s aging in the bottle, is the white Vital 2019. That’s what I have been drinking.
How do you envision Ramilo Wines in the future?
Since the foundation of Portugal, in the 12th century, the local people have been selecting the best grape varieties and wine making techniques for each region, but with globaliziation, a lot of that knowledge was forgotten. As the years go by, we have been focusing more and more in digging the past, and have been fascinated by our discoveries. I believe our future path will be to concentrate more and more in these discoveries and turn it into something we can share with wine fans all over the world.