Cork Tour Sao De Alportel

A visit to the mountains in Sao Bras de Alportel and the Nova Cortica Factory and Museum

Half of the world’s cork is produced in Portugal with most coming from the São Brás de Alportel region. The Nova tortiça factory, just outside São Brás de Alportel was founded by the present owner’s father in 1935 to produce cork heels for shoes and handles for fishing rods. In 1986 Caesar Correia changed the factory’s principal output to champagne corks.The first stage of production starts at the farms. A cork tree is stripped of its bark once every nine years by skilled workers using specially designed axes, and the best bark is selected. It is then stored in rolls, being sold to one of the many cork factories in Portugal, where it is sorted and graded into “superior” and “inferior” qualities. It is then cut into squares and steamed to rid it of insects and pressed.

The pressed cork is fed into a cutting machine to remove the tree bark and to produce strips, which are then subject to another selection process. Discs, about 4 cms in diameter, are cut and sorted again to produce the best quality for champagne cork production. A champagne cork, unlike a wine cork, is a fusion of two pieces. The top quality cork is used for the part that comes into contact with the champagne. The rest of the cork is made from a compound of waste cork left over from when the discs were cut. Finally, the two are fused together and the shape of the cork is produced when it is forced into the bottle. The Nova tortiça production line is not limited to bottle stoppers, cork skin (thin sheets of cork that can be used for a variety of useful objects from floor tiles, notice boards, handles and table tennis bats to name but a few) are made here too.

Sandra, the owner’s daughter, has developed a range of products, that are now exported around the world. The most unlikely of these are cork umbrellas, specially treated to become completely waterproof. Other interesting objects include cork pens, bags, purses, watch straps and hats.

Highlights:

  • Visit the mountains in Sao Bras de Alportel
  • See the Nova Corica Factory and Museaum