Wine production and storage: Portuguese terms explained

Big wine casks with the Reserva written up front

If you’re planning to travel to Portugal, buy wine and visit some wine estates, you’ll probably encounter some of these Portuguese terms related to wine production and storage. Discover the small but important differences between Quinta, Monte, or Herdade as they all refer to Estate and – prepare yourself – you’ll also find these words’ etymology. This is about to get really nerdy!

Pipa: Cask

In Portuguese, Pipa refers to a type of cask used to store wine. It has a 550 liters (132 gallons) capacity. Etymology: from Latin pipa (“pipe”).

Wine cask

Cuba: Wine vat

It refers to a large vat made out of stone, concrete, or metal. Cuba is also a town and municipality in central Alentejo. Map. Etymology: From Latin cūpa (“tub, cask, large bawl”).

Cave: Cellar

Etymology: from Latin cava (“cavity”), from cavus (“hollow”). It has the same origin as the English word cave.

Adega: Wine house, cellar

Adega has multiple meanings depending on which context the word is used. It can be the place where wine is produced or, like garrafeira, where wine is stored. A restaurant with a good wine selection is also commonly referred to as Adega. Etymology: From Latin apothēca, from Ancient Greek ἀποθήκη (apothḗkē) meaning repository, storehouse, warehouse. The same source as the Spanish word bodega.

Adega Mayor in Alentejo, drone photo
Adega Mayor by the Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza Vieira

Garrafeira: Liquor store

The broader meaning refers to all the places where one keeps garrafas (bottles).

Casa: House, estate

Casa, in the wine-producing industry, normally evokes a lineage and is associated with a family or a very old property. Example Casa de Santar, founded in 1790.Etymology: From Latin casa (genitive “casae”) meaning hut, cottage also rural property, small farm or dwelling, residence, house (Late Latin, Medieval Latin).

Quinta: Farm, estate


When I researched the origin of quinta it really blew my mind. Etymology: From Latin quintana – cognate to English quintain (“A street in the Roman camp, separating the fifth and sixth maniples, containing the marketplace”).

Quinta do Vesúvio in the Douro Valley

Monte: Hill, estate

Monte is used mainly in the Alentejo region to refer to a small or medium-sized estate. Being Alentejo geography mainly formed by plains, montes (hills) form distinctive silhouettes on the horizon. So, owning a monte normally means owning the hill and surrounding land. Etymology: From Latin montis, genitive singular of Latin mōns, from Proto-Indo-European men- (“to stand out, to tower”).

Herdade: Homestead

Herdade is used in the Alentejo region and it stands for a large or very large estate usually implying an operating business. Herdade has its origin in Latin hereditas (“inheritance”, “hereditary succession”, or “hereditary legacy”).

Herdade dos Grous in Albernôa, Beja

Cooperativa: Cooperative

This term is a short version of Cooperativa Agrícola (“Agricultural Cooperative”). The cooperative movement began in Europe in the 19th century, primarily in Britain and France, Wikipedia. In Portugal, the agricultural cooperatives were truly promoted from the 1920s onward during the Estado Novo regime. Many of those cooperativas are still in function to this day, producing wine, especially in the Alentejo region.

Understanding wine production and storage terms are essential to get into Portuguese wine culture. 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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