There's evidence of human habitation of the area dating way back to prehistoric times followed by the Romans, Suevi and Visigoths, but it was the Cistercian monks who really left their mark here with their magnificent examples of Cistercian architecture, of which the Monastery of São João de Tarouca is a fine example, dating back to the 7th century it is the oldest of its kind in the Iberian Peninsula. Another historical link to the area is Lamego, the location where D. Afonso Henriques was claimed the first King of Portugal in 1143.
Lying a mountainous plateau Távora‑Varosa is a land of smallholders who exploits the area's unique edaphoclimatic conditions for the production of fine wines. The summers are hot and dry whilst the winters are cold and wet. Predominately the soil is granitic and low in lime with patches of schist ideal for the mineral nature of sparkling wines. The whites attain acidity, intense aroma and citrine characteristics, whilst the reds gain balanced aromas which become elegantly complex over time.
Vines were first planted in what is now Távora-Varosa by Cistercian monks, who built monasteries and churches amongst the vines. Hence the name of this new Vinho Regional (covering precisely the same area as the DOC): Terras de Cister (Cistercian Country). This small but significant wine region, sandwiched between the Dão and Douro, is gifted with a dramatic terrain. Predomitly granite soils, high altitudes and a seasoned continental climate. The land is ideally suited for making high-quality sparkling wines that are gaining international appreciation. An excellent accompaniment to the famed local hams and cheeses.
For the white wines, this region offers unique conditions to achieve a high standard in quality. They are naturally acidic and fresh, with an intense bouquet and a citrus character. Equally, the red wines achieve a delicate fragrance and nobility in body and mature nicely over time. Most notable brands of the area are Murganheira, Raposeira and the Cooperativa Agricola do Távora.
There are two appellations of the area, the Távora-Varosa DOC, available as still or sparkling varieties and the Terras de Cister IG wine or Terras de Cister regional wine.