Dona Antonia Adelaide Ferreira, also known as Dona Antonia, or simply, “Ferreirinha”, is one of the great personalities in the history of Port Wine and the Douro region. Hugely energetic, at one point she managed about two dozen Quintas, some of which are amongst the most famous in the region, and was, for many years, the largest exporter of port wine. Her reputation was due as much to her ability as a businesswoman and strong character, as to her generosity and the way she assumed her responsibilities of citizenship as a ‘Duriense’ (Douro region inhabitant) . During the worst moments in the history of the region, as a result of the vineyard pests, bad harvests or falling prices, she always came to the need of her workers and employees and to the Douro farmers.
She was also responsible for the construction of the Régua city Hospital and other important works of social character in the region.
Dona Antónia was born in Régua in 1811, daughter of a wealthy producer and wine merchant - José Bernardo Ferreira and his wife Margarida Rosa Gil. On the 22nd October 1834 she married her cousin Bernardo António Ferreira, also an only child and with great fortune. Dona Antónia had two children: a girl, Maria de Assunção, later Countess de Azambuja, and a boy, Antonio Bernardo Ferreira. Her husband died in Paris in 1844. Widowed very young (33 years old), this awoke her true vocation as a businesswoman, ingraining herself in her Douro properties.
She spent three years in London, where she moved to escape pressure from the Duke of Saldanha, prime minister to the king of Portugal, who was exerting his son to marry the daughter of Dona Antonia, at the time aged just 11.
Backed by José da Silva Torres, Administrator of The Ferreira Port House (the family’s port wine company), who later became her second husband, Antonia Adelaide Ferreira fought against the lack of support from successive governments, unconcerned with the problems of the Douro region and its wines, struggled against vine diseases (phylloxera), and went to England to obtain information about the most modern and effective means to fight this plague.
Dona Antonia was considered a visionary for investing in planting new vineyards in areas which were unexplored until then, and outside the Douro demarcated region at the time. She went down in history as one of the greatest Portuguese entrepreneurs.
Previous owner of Quinta do Vallado, which remains to his day in the possession of her descendants, it was on the bicentennial of her birth that Quinta do Vallado decided to bottle the Very Old Port Adelaide Tributa, vinified while she was still alive, and in tribute to her life and work in the Douro region.