The Niepoort family has been operating independently in the port wine market since 1842. Franciscus Marius Niepoort, born in Hilversum, Holland, set foot in Portugal and founded the now world-famous company.
The family’s port wine house was founded at that time. However, it was not until 1987, when Dirk van der Niepoort joined his father Rolf in the family business, that the company owned its own vineyards. Up to this point, Niepoort was a classic port wine dealer: the base wines were bought from winegrowers in the Douro, nurtured and matured, then blended and marketed from the company wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia Oporto.
Dirk van der Niepoort, born in 1964, discovered his passion for wine as a young man during an internship at the Mövenpick wine merchant in Switzerland. The conventional work in the Port wine house no longer fulfilled him. He wanted to grow his own grapes in order to control quality right from the start. Dirk also intended to foot tread his wines in lagares (traditional granite fermentation basins common in the Douro region). This is an expensive type of maceration that requires a lot of hand and foot work. However, the passionate winemaker was certain that the port wines would lose density and complexity if they were solely fermented in tanks.
He therefore bought the dilapidated Quinta de Nápoles in the Cima Corgo sub-region on the left bank of the Tedo, a tributary of the Douro Valley. The Quinta was mentioned in historical documents as early as 1496, making it one of the oldest properties in the entire region. A year later, the company also bought Quinta do Carril, which is located just above Quinta de Nápoles.
However, the Niepoorts could not immediately work with the vineyards, which had been neglected for decades: first they had to make substantial investments. 15 hectares had to be completely replanted. Another 10 hectares with vines older than 70 years could be preserved.
In addition to producing his own port wines, like ruby dum port, dry white port or senior tawny port, Dirk Niepoort experimented with table wines. In 1990 Dirk vinified his first red wine, called “Robustus”. Critics, however, declared it to be “unfit to drink” due to the strong tannins and acidity and the wine never made it onto the market. In 1991, his first red “Redoma” followed – four years later the first white “Redoma” and in 1999 also the first rosé version of the now globally reknown wine.
The first Niepoort Batuta came onto the market with the 1999 vintage. It is grown on the oldest vines on the north-facing slopes of Quinta do Carril and quickly achieved cult status in Portugal.
Since the harvest of 2007, four years after the inception of the Douro Boys, the wines have been vinified in the new cellar at Quinta de Nápoles. After nine years of planning, it was built in just nine months. Find out how to visit it here.