On November 1, 1997, Porto Ramos-Pinto inaugurated the Museum of Ervamoira in the presence of Portuguese dignitaries, artistic luminaries and port wine representatives.
The museum, created with the help of the Portuguese government, was built in honor of an unexpected archaeological discovery that saved one of the Douro region’s finest port vineyards from destruction.
Ramos-Pinto’s Quinta da Ervamoira vineyard had long been producing grapes for the house’s award-winning ports when the Portuguese Electricity Authority decided to build a dam at the site in 1991. The vineyard would be partially submerged, destroying the area’s delicate macroclimate.
Despite months of public appeals to save the valley by winemaker João de Almeida, all hope for saving the vineyard seemed lost -- until an amazing event occured. In 1995, archaeologists discovered engravings, pictures and bones on the rock faces at Ervamoira found to be Europe’s finest collection of open-air Paleolithic art, dating back to 26,000 B.C. Unfortunatly, despite this discovery, the Portuguese Electricity Authority persisted with their plans for a damn.
It wasn’t until 1996 that the rock art (and thus, Ervamoira) was rescued from flooding when the Portuguese government gave in to an international campaign to preserve the drawings.
Public interest in the carvings prompted the opening of the Foz Côa Archeological Park at the site on August 10, 1996, covering one mile from the river Côa mouth upstream. The park has already attracted thousands of visitors, including the King of Spain, Don Juan Carlos, and Jorge Sampaio, President of the Republic of Portugal.
In the year following the opening of the park, the 18th century estate master’s house at Ervamoira was fully restored to display the area’s archaeological treasures. The Museum of Ervamoira was inaugurated with great fanfare in early November 1997, attended by the Portuguese Minister of Culture, several state department heads and Jean-Claude Rouzaud, president of Champagne Louis Roederer and owner of Ramos-Pinto.
The museum is dedicated to preserving the region’s anthropological heritage and features natural history exhibits, a computer research room for visitors and a wine tasting room.
In committing itself to the protection and promotion of the Portuguese cultural heritage, the House of Ramos-Pinto remains faithful to the traditions started in 1880 by its founder, Adriano Ramos-Pinto.