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Text and photos by José Silva
She lives in Ovar where she is also a very successful lawyer. She is stubborn, persistent, dedicated to what she does and has an amazing energy, taking everything by storm. But she has another feature so typical of her: she is extremely friendly and polite, always ready to help and has the ability to get along with everyone around her, making new friends quite easily. Married with two daughters, she is short in stature and still has a girlish face, always with a broad, infectious smile and she is a lot of fun.
As a child, she spent her vacations on her grandmother Maria Santiago's estate, up in Monção, Quinta de Santiago, where she had her first contact with the land and its various productions, including the vineyards. Her grandmother taught her everything about agriculture, which Joana "drank in" willingly, and learned, she learned everything. The Alvarinho wine production was traditionally sold to Adega Cooperativa de Monção, leaving some for household consumption. Until one day her grandmother Maria brought the family together and told them her idea of making a wine to be sold, to put on the market. Joana, who undoubtedly has her grandmother Maria's DNA, was the most enthusiastic. And so, began a new adventure in her life, and her family; to produce an Alvarinho wine to be marketed with its own brand. There was plenty of raw material and it was of very high quality, they hired an oenologist and work began. Joana and her grandmother Maria were the most dedicated. She began to practice a little less law and despite living in Ovar did not make Joana think about giving up even for a second. And so was born this project, today very successful, which from 2009 adapted all wine making to produce more modern wines, as the market demanded. The quinta (estate/winery) has been in the family since 1899, which was an added responsibility, as they wanted to make more modern wines, but still honouring their grandmother Maria, a local woman from the countryside, a great embroideress, but who also was a forward thinker. Even today, for making wine, they only use natural yeast, watering is made with spring water, do not use any chemicals, use only traditional tools, hoes, etc. Just like it was done during the time of her grandmother Maria. The deep regret of Joana and her whole family was that her grandmother did not attend the launch of the first wine, the 2012 harvest, which was released in 2014, because she was already gone. But this has been Joana's greatest tribute to her mentor, her “teacher”, her grandmother Maria: continuing to develop this Boutique Winery project.
And soon they decided to build a new, modern cellar/winery with the capacity to produce more wine and store it in optimal conditions. And there was Joana in charge of the operations, giving opinions, listening to explanations, decorating the space with good taste and doing something she really liked: welcoming people and sharing with them their wines and the Quinta de Santiago.
She helps out on the winery and even on the vineyard all year round, but during the grape harvests she does not stop even for a minute, giving her all. But she does not stop there, because she is also responsible for the commercial area. Whether it's wine dinners, workshops or commented tastings, Joana goes to all of them. Even to the fairs, whether in mainland Portugal and the islands, or anywhere in the world, Joana Santiago does an exemplary work, which is shown by the many people who already know about her wines and, obviously, in the increased sales. A fine example for younger producers, this "catraia" (kid).
Grandmother Maria, if she was still here, she would be the first one to encourage her …
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