Wine agriculture: Portuguese terms explained

Interested in taking a deep dive into wine culture in Portugal? This article aims to explain and give context to some of the most common wine agriculture terms.
Discover the differences between very similar words like vinho and vinha or viticultor and vinicultor but – prepare yourself – you’ll also find these words’ etymology.
This is about to get really nerdy!

Disclaimer: I see myself as the Jon Snow of portuguese wines: “I know nothing”. The same applies to etymology and its peculiar science, I know absolutely nothing. Blame Wikipedia if you find something shady or wrong. But do get in touch and let me know!
Periquita is renowned for being Portugal's first ever bottled red.
Periquita is renowned for being Portugal's first ever bottled red.

Vinha: Vineyard

This word is very similar to vinho but ends with an “a”.
Etymology: Vinha has its origin in the Latin word (

Vinha velha: Old vineyard

Etymology: Velha is the feminine version of velho. From Latin vetus (“old”) +‎ –ulus
Vetus has its origins in Proto-Italic wetos, from Proto-Indo-European wétos (“year”).

Uva: Grape

Etymology: From Latin ūva (“grape”).

Cacho: Bunch of grapes

The broader meaning refers to a bunch of flowers or fruits.
Etymology: Uncertain origin.
Bunch of grapes. The basic element in wine agriculture in Portugal

Casta: Grape variety 

The broader meaning refers to caste, kind, sort, breed or class
Etymology: The english word caste derives itself from portuguese or spanish. The Oxford English Dictionary derives it from Portuguese casto (“chaste”), from Latin castus. You can read more about this topic in the Wictionary.
Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz (Aragonez), Tinta Barroca and Tinto Cão, the grape varieties traditionally used to produce red wines in the Douro region.

Vindima: Wine harvest 

Wine was such an important produce in classic culture and history that it has a word just for its harvest.
Etymology: Vindima comes from the Latin (vindemia). 
Wine harvest in Douro Valley
"Vindima" in the Douro valley

Viticultor: Viticulturist

The person who takes care of the vineyard. 
Etymology: From Latin vītis (“vine, grapevine”) + cultor, cultōris (“cultivator, tiller”).

Vinicultor: Winegrower

It’s a minor change from viti to vini but being a wine grower can encompass many roles. 

Often this person holds the vision for the estate development, from vine plantation, harvest and wine production to sales and distribution.
In Portuguese is also called the vitivinicultor (viti+vini-cultor).

Etymology: From Latin vīnum (“wine”) + cultor, cultōris (“cultivator, tiller”).

Dirk Niepoort, the renowned Douro valley wine grower
Dirk Niepoort, the renowned Douro valley wine grower

Enólogo: Oenologist

Etymology: From Ancient Greek οἶνος (oînos, “wine”) + logy  (“the study of”).

I hope this article has been helpful to understand wine culture in Portugal. Any doubt or suggestion? Feel free to drop a line in the comment box below.

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