Quality wine produced in Leiria prison.jpg

Quality wine produced in Leiria prison


Cellar Master

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LEIRIA PRISON inmates want to produce quality wine and sell it nationally as a branded product.

The wine-making project is part of an ambitious plan that started with the planting of several hectares of wine grapes.

The objective is to create a “more exquisite and pure type of wine” to that already being produced in the prison.

The prison’s engineer, Estanislau Ramos, said in an interview with Lusa news agency that they prepared and presented a project to the proper authorities but it is still waiting for a response.

Leiria Prison, which was built in 1946, has a permanent population of young prisoners and is very focused on educational programmes for inmates. About 90 per cent of the income generated by the prisoners’ work comes from the production of milk, horticultural produce and wine.

Each year, the prison, unofficially named as Leiria Educational Farm, produces about 30,000 litres of wine. Most of its production is of red wine, which is sold locally.

However, the white wine production is considered a high quality product, said Estanislau Ramos. He added that it can even be considered at the same quality level of other brands already existing in the Portuguese market.

The impact of this production strategy in the educational programme is another question. Some inmates believe they are learning something important for their future lives. Others, however, consider this “outside” work is worthless for their future.

Estanislau Ramos admitted there were difficulties getting people to work with the vines, because it requires skilled workers, saying most of the inmates were happy to continue with other, more physical tasks. However, he said: “Some are really interested in learning and can progress.”

The aim of the project, he said, was merely to teach them “some tools they might find interesting for their futures”.