Soalheiro – Nature-based winery roofs

Quinta de Soalheiro (Vinusoalleirus, Lda)


Included in our global sustainability strategy, this new project from Soalheiro has, as usual, an environmental focus. The new winery buildings were projected within the sustainable principles that guide our way. They were built with a north orientation, and the south side of the building was completely buried, to keep the most efficient heat balance inside.

On the other hand, the roof has a natural meadow covering that will not only help reduce the temperature amplitude of the winery, but will also allow the least landscape impact of this construction. With this project, we aim to decrease the energy consumption of a normal winery.



Reduce the energy reduction on the winery



We believe in:

Quality, Consistency, Tradition, Innovation, Terroir, Economic, Social and Environmental Sustainability.

We already achieved:

  • Organic Certification of the vineyards since 2005
  • Environmental Certification since 2017

Looking forward:

  • Continuous improvement
  • Study wine life cycle and the reduction of wine carbon footprint.


Soalheiro is reconstructing its actual winery, which has elevated thermal ranges caused by its southwest windows orientation. In this process, with the objective of reducing the thermal amplitude, the landscape impact and the energy consumption, various aspects were taken into consideration:

  • Architectonic and infrastructure planning for the winery renovation project must take into account the sunlight exposure and solar radiation
  • Respect and preservation of the natural slope of the fields
  • Wise choice of materials for the walls and the roof
  • Use of native species or spontaneous vegetation

Therefore, Soalheiro built the enlargement of the winery with the following characteristics:

  • Building facing north with the southern part buried (thermal control)
  • Roof with a nature based-solution: use of natural meadow identical to the one that grows spontaneously in the vineyards (thermal control and landscape impact)

Choosing a natural meadow for the roof has tree positive effects:

  • Reduced maintenance: the maintenance is limited to sporadic cutting and, when necessary, the vegetation cover. It is very resistant and adapted to the site, showing low nutrition and water consumption requirements.
  • Thermal control: the vegetation cover has thermal inertia much higher than a simple cover also possible with slime or slabs.
  • Low landscape impact: this green roof visually blends with the surroundings and contributes to the native biodiversity of the vineyard.

This integrated solution also allows energy savings.

The energy consumption required to lower the temperature in 4ºc during the 4 hottest months of the year is of 102 kWh per day, in the winery that already has a meadow cover and has a cover area of 653 m2 and volume of 3463 m3. Reduction of the total energy impact of about 12240 KWh corresponding to about 1958€. The whole company consumes about 160000 per year, which means a reduction of 7,7%.

In the new winery, the energy consumption to obtain the same result would be 348 KWh per day. Therefore, the reduction of the total energy impact of about 41760 KWh corresponding to about 6681euros. The whole company consumes about 160000 per year, which means a reduction of 26%.

The current winery already has a natural vegetation roof of 653,38m2 that covers the entire winemaking area. The new building in the final phase of construction has an extension of 1633m2 that will also be fully covered with meadow and organic aromatic herbs (produced for infusions by Soalheiro).


As can be seen in the photos, the landscaping achieved with a spontaneous covering, allied to the reduced visible part of the construction, allows a natural framing of more than 2286,03  m2globally.


The existing natural cover allows a reduction of 7,7% in energy. With the expansion of the winery, we estimate to achieve savings up to 26% of the global energy consumption of the company.

With these savings we expect to free up financial means for the implementation of other projects that increase the overall efficiency of the company.

In addition, we verified that it is not necessary to install equipment to obtain any correction of ambient temperature. Therefore, according to the energy study made and budget we had for that installation, the equipment would cost for the smaller space (old winery) about 85.000 euros and for the larger 150.000 euros (new winery). This represents a total saving of 235.000 euros.


All new projects should focus on native biodiversity to achieve an operational, landscape, cultural and energy efficiency.

More specifically, in the natural covering, it was fundamental to adopt a type of covering similar to the one that exists in a spontaneous way in the region and, consequently, in the vineyards of Soalheiro in organic production. This fact enables reduced maintenance and a perfect integration in the intrinsic rurality of the landscape.


  • Complete the implementation of the new project and define mechanisms for monitoring, control and improvement.
  • Increase Soalheiro’s knowledge about the product lifecycle and ways to minimize the impact on climate change by moving towards carbon neutrality.


The use of vertical or horizontal plant coverings, as was in our case, should be a concern because, besides lowering the impact of buildings, it reduces their impact on the environment and consequently on climate change.

We disclose these concerns and actions to our value chain (suppliers, customers and all stakeholders) in order to create a philosophy of proactivity showing that it is not difficult to do it, we just have to want it.

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