Medronho production hampered by fires

PRODUCTION OF aguardente de medronho, a liqueur made from the fruit of strawberry trees and one of the great traditions of the Algarvean hills, has been greatly damaged due to the serious forest fires. Over the last year, the fires destroyed the forestry of Monchique by 80 per cent and of Caldeirão by around 70 per cent. This scenario is worrying the producers’ association.  

“In Monchique, only small patches of forest, namely in the Sul da Picota and in some other spread out areas, escaped the fires. The number of remaining strawberry trees was insignificant and, therefore, practically no aguardente could be produced in our area this year,” lamented the president of the Associação dos Produtores de Medronho do Barlavento Algarvio, José Paulo Duarte Dunes.

According to Dunes, despite the replanting of strawberry trees in the mountains of Monchique, an action that has been warmly welcomed, the damages will still be substantial for the producers. The situation is identical in Serra do Caldeirão, where an area of 36,000 hectares burned, mainly affecting the boroughs of Loulé, São Brás de Alportel and Almodôvar.

“The production of medronho will be greatly reduced because the fires destroyed the most part of the strawberry trees. There are between 20 and 30 distillers and, this year, few will be able to produce due to the great shortage in fruit,” explained a source from the Associação dos Produtores Florestais da Serra do Caldeirão.