Verdelho

Crop: Vitis vinifera L. (Grape vine)

Both historical remarks, revealed by the great diversity of ‘Verdelho’ cultivars, and popular beliefs suggest the hypothesis that ‘Verdelho’ was brought from the mainland to the islands of Portugal (Menezes 1896). However, currently it is not possible to find old vineyards in continental Portugal (Cunha et al. 2016) but it is possible to find old vineyards in the Madeira and Azores archipelagos, as well as in the Canary Islands.

The landrace description of variety ‘Verdelho’ was carried out in Dois Portos location, property of National Institute of Agriculture and Veterinarian Research (INIAV) of Portuguese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development (MAFDR).

In order to access the agronomical and enological features from ‘Verdelho’ variety resource, please visit http://www.eu-vitis.de/index.php (accessed July 2019) [press on ‘Public access’ and after ‘On farm maintenance’, select variety ‘Verdelho’ and Portugal country or an alternatively contact INIAV from Dois Portos (http://www.iniav.pt/menu-lateral-geral/contactos)].

Cultivation System: ND.

Geographical Information

Country: Portugal

The ‘Verdelho’ landrace earned its reputation in the Madeira and Azores islands of Portugal as a main grape variety in wine production used in fortified wines. From there it made its way to Australia, where it makes rich, aromatic dry whites.

In Madeira it has traditionally been responsible for the tangy, off-dry style in fortified Madeira wine. The recognised quality of wines resulted by high acidity, and complexity of aromatic compounds. Before the phylloxera pest reached to Madeira in the late 19th century, this variety represented two-thirds of the occupied surface area with vineyards. Nowadays very little of it remains, growing mostly in the north coast of the island.


Farmer(s) description:

Nowadays the cultivation of the landrace in Portugal is carried out in the same areas and is particularly concentrated in the Madeira and Azores Islands.

To have access to the Landrace farmer description should be press on the link http://www.eu-vitis.de/index.php, continue to press on ‘Public access’ and after, ‘On farm maintenance’, select Variety ‘Verdelho’ and Portugal country or an otherwise contact INIAV from Dois Portos (http://www.iniav.pt/menu-lateral-geral/contactos.


Propagation system: Clonal

Multiplication procedures and consequences on landrace diversity:

Plants of ‘Verdelho’ are multiplied by vegetative propagation, which is the only way to reproduce this variety. For this reason, the bench grafting is commonly used to acquire new plants of ‘Verdelho’ in nurseries. Field grafting is rarely used in the establishment of new vineyards. Almost all are infected with virus (GLRaV-3).

Management plan existence:

The landrace management relies completely on rules of the Designation of Origin (DOC in its Portuguese acronym).

In 2009, ‘Verdelho’ variety occupied a total area of 397.06 ha: 9.67 ha in Região Autónoma dos Açores; 74.79 ha in the Autonomous  Region of Madeira; 18.44 ha in Trás-os-Montes; 1.99 ha in Entre Douro e Minho; 6.64 ha in Beira Litoral; 63.4 ha in Beira Interior; 76.66 ha in Ribatejo e Oeste; 139.81 ha in Alentejo and 5.66 ha in Algarve region https://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do?dataset=vit_bs4_pt&lang=en, accessed july 2019.

Added Values

Market - existing and novel:

The great majority of grapes from ‘Verdelho’ variety produced in the Madeira and Azores Islands are respectively used in wine making of typical wines of Madeira and wines of Azores, due to its importance in wine making into fortified wine, responsible for the fresh notes of tropical and citrus fruits, along with an excellent minerality, weak tangy flavour and semi-dry style.

Vine growers often sell the wine directly to consumer or through local distributors.

Others (e.g. commercial/geographical brands or special traits):

Recently, the ‘Verdelho’ variety was considered, to have a great potential to produce monovarietal quality white wines either for young consumption or with potential aging aptitude. This effort will be used to safeguard and promote the cultivation of this genetic resource in other regions from Portugal.


Verdelho’ variety was initially characterised for morpho-phenological according OIV descriptors (OIV 1983, Eiras-Dias et al. 2009) and genetic traits using microsatellites (Veloso et al. 2010) in two projects, funded by INIAV and AGRO Project 187, respectively. To guarantee the production increase of ‘Verdelho’ variety and resolve problems of synonymy between ‘Verdelho’ and ‘Gouveio’ varieties in mainland Portugal, the INIAV–Dois Portos, undertook an intensive prospection of ‘Verdelho’ in Madeira Island and mainland of Portugal. Prospected virus-free plants: the grapevine leafroll associated virus 3 (GLRaV-3), grapevine fanleaf virus, GFLV (GFLV), Arabis mosaic virus (ARmV) and grapevine virus A (GVA), were established in an ex situ field collection at INIAV–Dois Portos, near Torres Vedras, Portugal.

In 2006, the vineyard was finally establish in field aiming at: i) the production of virus-free plant material to be used in vegetative propagation, ii) the creation of conditions that would enable the certification of plant material used in vegetative propagation as standard category, iii) the characterization of monovarietal wine derived from the landrace production and tasting wines, and iv) the promotion of new integrated strategies to link the ‘Verdelho’ wine production to consumer initiatives to encourage the increase market demand.

These activities led to an expansion of the landrace cultivation and increased wine grower income.

Genotypes from six different locations of ‘Verdelho’ are available in the ex situ field collection at INIAV–Dois Portos, and in nurseries during the short-term storage. Under long-terms storage this variety is kept in field conditions in the germplasm bank of Portuguese Ampelographic Collection (FAO PRT 051) at INIAV, property of Portuguese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development.

Results obtained with the ‘Verdelho’ variety in Dois Portos location (Lisbon wines area), the high quality of the wine produced, the increased perception of the landrace value and a renewed interest in monovarietal wine production, gives hope to on-farm conservation of virus-free plant vegetative propagation in the near future.

To have access to the ‘Verdelho’ variety resource should be contact INIAV from Dois Portos (http://www.iniav.pt/menu-lateral-geral/contactos) or VITICERT (Portuguese association of the vineyard nurseries) in Torres Vedras (http://data.dgadr.pt/bolsa/membros_more.asp?search_fd0=495)

Case study provided by Instituto Nacional de Investigação Agrária e Veterinária (INIAV), Portugal.

Most of the information contained in this document has been communicated by Jorge Cunha, João Brazão and Eiras-Dias (Lab head).

  • Eiras-Dias, JE, Cunha, J, Brazão, J, Pedroso, V. (2009) Caracterização dos Biótipos, ’Gouveio’ e ‘Verdelho’. In: Unbottled - 1º Congresso Internacional do Dão, Viseu.
  • Menezes, P. (1896) Apontamentos para o estudo da ampelographia Portugueza. Boletim da Direcção Geral de Agricultura (Ministério das Obras Publicas, Comercio e Industria, Imprensa Nacional: Lisbon, Portugal).
  • OIV - Organisation Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin (1983) Descriptor list for grapevine varieties and Vitis species (Organisation Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin: Paris, France).
  • Veloso, M.M., Almandanim, M.C., Baleiras-Couto, M., Pereira, H.S., Carneiro, L.C., Fevereiro, P. and Eiras-Dias, J. (2010) Microsatellite database of grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) cultivars used for wine production in Portugal. Ciência e Técnica Vitivinícola 25,53–61.