Poached Pears in Wine: the Oeste of Portugal and the European quality construction of place-based foods


For nearly one century, the north of Lisbon Western Region was renowned for its wine production, and constructed its regional identity around the special qualities of its grapevines. The implementation of CAP measures since the 1980s has triggered a reorientation of the regional agricultural production with major investments in horticulture and orchards, namely pear trees. Since then, new economic dynamics and glocal discourses around a particular pear cultivar – the Rocha pear – have been observed. Both regional wines and Rocha pears, which were granted certified quality status (DOC and PDO labels) after the 1980s, are based upon monocultures and target global markets. This article looks at the processes of construction of a Geographical Indication around Rocha pear and its association with
the Western region of Portugal, as it was granted PDO status in 2003. The article contributes to debates on the definition of terroir and other place-based product designations (such as the PDO enshrined by European regulations). The empirical material draws on observation methods, exploratory interviews with local farmers,
regional and national associations, experts and local authorities, and on documental sources (e.g. newsletters, promotional marketing leaflets and secondary statistical data).