Wine production in the region dates back to Roman times. Later on, D. Afonso Henriques, first King of Portugal (XII century), authorized the planting of vineyards in the region on condition that he received one quarter of the wine they produced.
Bairrada is bordered to the south by the River Mondego, to the north by the River Vouga, to the west by the Atlantic Ocean and to the east by the Mountains of Buçaco and Caramulo. This is what makes Bairrada an exceptional geographic area with a unique climate and a special terroir, where the clay-limestone soils are dominant. It’s a region of predominantly intensive agriculture, with a variety of crops on small parcels of land, where the vine occupies a pride of place. The quality of its wines justifies the Demarcation of the Region in 1979, with the creation of the denominations DO Bairrada and IG Beira Atlântico, duly approved and certified by the Bairrada Vitivinicultural Commission.
The soils come from various geological eras, but are predominantly poor. They are mainly divided between calcareous clay terrain and long sandy bands, constituting a wide variety of soil types, depending on which element is predominant. Vines are cultivated mainly in clay or clay-limestone soils. The winters are long and cool, the summers hot, tempered by the winds from the east and north-east dominant in those regions closer to the sea. The climate is Mediterranean-Atlantic, with an annual rainfall between 900 mm and 1,100 mm. The region is mostly flat, with vineyards seldom situated at altitudes higher than 120 meters. Given its flatness and proximity to the ocean, it enjoys a temperate climate with a strong Atlantic influence, with frequent rains and mild average temperatures. Forming of a strip along the coast with a high population density, the rural property is divided into thousands of small parcels, a reality that has been changing in the last decade, during which larger areas of production have been emerging
The official borders of the Bairrada were established in 1867 by António Augusto de Aguiar and in 1887, the Portuguese government founded a practical viticulture school in Bairrada to encourage better cultivation techniques and to prevent vine diseases.
The first director of this school, Tavares da Silva, pioneered the sparkling wine production in Portugal and in the region by the Classical Method, by the end of the 19th century. He recognized that the region’s cold, humid climate with its strong maritime influence favours its production, yielding grapes with a low alcohol degree but high acid content, both essential factors in the production of high quality sparkling wines.
Bairrada became a DOC wine region for reds and whites in 1979, for sparkling wines in 1991 and for wine spirits and fortified wines in 2015.
Nowadays, the region is mostly known for the production of high longevity reds based on its queen of red grapes, the Baga variety, widely compared to Nebbiolo, and also recognized for its high quality Classic Method Sparkling wines.