A letter from the Founder of the Quinta, Baron Bodo von Bruemmer
I am currently 105 years old and my team has asked me to write a letter for our Internet presence. Although you might think that I have no idea about modern marketing I will tell you that I do love my Ipad, my Computer and that many things in the past years I have learned from Googling in the Internet. So technology does not frighten me, on the contrary I learned to enjoy and benefit from it, especially together with my 2 great grand-sons who were my Ipad tutors…
I would like to take this moment to write about me and the Casal, as I feel that, even in my future absence, in the coming years many of you will visit the Casal and the Vinyards.
To understand me better why I came to Portugal in the first place, I will have to explain a little bit the reasons. I was born in one of the formerly Baltic Russian Provinces (Estonia, Livonia, Curland) and during the Russian Revolution we had to flee in 1918 to Germany. After I was in 15 schools and Universities I finally landed in Switzerland, were I spent most of my professional life as a banker (what else would someone do in Switzerland).
But nevertheless it has always, since we lost our home in 1918, been my dream to start a new family tradition in a new place in Europe. The older I got the more convinced I was that it will be land and agriculture which will form part of this dream. After my 50’s birthday I decided, it is time to find this place where I can live after retirement and start the project. Dreams and sunshine came together, and on one of my trips to Portugal, in the beginning of the 60’s I came across this magnificent spot in Almocageme – Colares. The house was a ruin, but the views and the fields were magnificent. So I decided to go ahead and buy the Casal Sta Maria.
The history of this Quinta started in the beginning of the XXVIII century. The main house was built in 1720 and it is remarkable that it has survived the 1755 earthquake. This is due to the underground granite structure of the Serra de Sintra. In the 19th century the owners of the Quinta were producing wines, but in these years consumption of wine was not the same than nowadays so in 1903 the wine production stopped.
The renovation and construction of three additional buildings took us 3 years. Until the Revolution of 1974 we ran a small agriculture Quinta with a dozen cows, chickens and some vegetables. It was fun, and we enjoyed every moment of it. Our relationships with the Bombeiros and the Police from Almocageme originate from these times and up to these days I support these institutions with great passion.
But my wife and I, after the first years, had bigger aspirations. One day we started to breed Arab Horses, actually we were the first in Portugal. Followed by this was the creation of the first horse race track close to Cascais. In the 70’s we enjoyed this work enormously. The joy became serious and we ended up breeding many internationally rewarded Arab Horses. Some years later we became the biggest Arab horses “Coudelaria” in Portugal, with our horses competing in Competitions and Horse Races worldwide.
At the end oft he 80’s the famous horse pest brought this venture a bitter end. No horses could travel or compete in any competition fort he nexts 5 years. At the same time, unfortunately, our personal health was not the best as well, and after some years of suffering, my beloved wife Rosário died in 1994.
So, me alone, with no horses and no wife, kept on for some years until health again brought me to Switzerland, where I needed a serious operation. It was after that operation in 2006, aged 96, that I woke up with the idea of producing wine in the Casal Sta Maria. As always in my life, passionate and efficient, I started the project 3 weeks later. The first vineyards were planted 6 months later.
Today, after nearly 10 years, I am still alive, now 104. My dream has become true, but I admit that dreams come true at a price. My energy is slowly fading, but with great content do I see the next generations, Nicholas my grandson and his children Nicholas Jr and Maximiliano walking through the Vineyards, testing the wines and slowly taking over some of the management tasks.
I sincerely hope that all of you, who will come and see the Casal Sta Maria one day, will fall in love with it as much as I did in 1962, when I first saw it. Enjoy our wines and the Company of our family. Be our guest, be my guest.
Baron Bodo von Bruemmer, letter written in Summer 2016