A Brief look at the Quinta Velha Cheesery
Since the first half of the 20th Century, the cheesery of Quinta Nova, better know as Quinta Velha, has made Azeitão sheep''s cheese and butter. From then until 1980 Alfredo Filipe was known as the Dean of Azeitão cheesemakers. It was his knowledge of the craft of cheese-making and to his merit that the Quinta Velha Cheesery became recognized for the production of its creamy cheeses . During this period, from November to June, 6,300 cheeses were made annually from the milk of the farm''s herd of traditional Saloia Sheep.
Following the 25th April Revolution there was a period when the production of Azeitão cheese became practically extinct , this was one of only three properties that continued to produce the cheese and served the image of a product with unique characteristics. "Uncle" Alfredo was the symbol of quality cheese-making and was to be seen and heard frequently on television, radio and newspapers. As indeed was the cheesery, the sheep herd and the traditional way of making cheese and this all added to the recognition and approval the cheese started to have at a wider level. Indeed it is a point of pride that at an informal level we contributed to what today is called Environmental Education.
During many years school buses arrived bringing dozens of school children to learn about the traditional sheep and the cheese-making process (so well explained by "Uncle" Alfredo). The cheesery was often the stage for study visits, by students of different scholastic levels as well as agricultural workers from the same field.
The cheesery, herd and even the farm has been photographed on many occasions by the Arrabida Natural Park as well as the official photo of ARCOLSA(Regional Association of Milk Sheep Breeders). It is amusing to note while surfing the Net that the official site of the Arrabida Nature Park, the Palmela Municipality and the official national site at the 2000 Hanover Fair, have several photos of ï¿½Uncleï¿½ Alfredo and the Quinta Velha Cheesery posted.
In 1986 Quinta Velha became a member of ARCOLSA and also part of the newly Demarcated Region of Azeitão Cheese and Controlled Denomination of Origin - Azeitão Cheese.
In 1990 the Quinta Velha cheesery was visited by many official entities as part of the first showing - competition of Azeitão cheese which took place in Palmela - an initiative of ARCOLSA, the Regional Tourism of the Costa Azul and the of Arrabida Nature Park.