Wine agriculture: Portuguese terms explained

Bunch of grapes illustration

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!

Vinho: Wine

Etymology: Vinho has its origin in the Latin word (vīnum) itself deriving from ancient greek (οἶνος, oínos).

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”) +‎ –ulusVetus has its origins in Proto-Italic wetos, from Proto-Indo-European wétos (“year”).

“Vinha Maria Teresa in the Douro valley is at least 100 years old. Bought in 1918, the 11.6-acre vineyard planted on stone-walled terraces is now run as part of Quinta do Crasto.”

Wine Enthusiast

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.

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.

Vindima: Wine harvest 

The wine was such important produce in classic culture and history that it has a word just for its harvest. Etymology: Vindima comes from Latin (vindemia). 

“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 winegrower 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”).

Enólogo: Oenologist

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

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

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My name is Sérgio Abreu, a multimedia designer and digital marketing specialist that has spent many years dealing with pixels, color charts and image editing software. Like Jon Snow, the Game of Thrones character, I know nothing… about wine. This is my quest.

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