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Por amor a Portugal

Where does cork come from?

Welcome in the montados of Portugal, or dehesas in Spain. This is a savannah-like landscape, dominated by cork oak (Quercus suber) and holm oak (Quercus ilex, sensu lato) trees. This ancient, wild grassland extends over more than 5,800,000 ha in Spain and more than 1,070,000 ha in Portugal.

That’s why it’s sometimes called ‘the Iberian Serengeti’ and ‘the Iberian Peninsula’s best kept secret’. Thanks to cork harvest, this piece of nature and its ecosystem stays unharmed.

No harm to the oaks

Cork is extracted every 9-10 years and the tree has the ability to regenerate a new layer of bark. Because of this, the cork oak stays in good shape. This means that a single tree can produce from 15 to 20 crops over 250 years! Destruction of the tree is forbidden. The cork oak harvesting enables the ecosystem to remain intact and not being used for high-intensity farming or other practices.

Food for iberian pigs

Oaks are protected and pruned to produce acorns, which the famous black Iberian pigs feed on in the fall during the montanera. Ham produced from Iberian pigs fattened with acorns and air-dried at high elevations is known as Jamón ibérico (“presunto ibérico”, or “pata negra” in Portuguese).

The wine stopper

Cork has been used for thousands of years. Archaeologists found evidence that the Egyptians used cork, as well as the Ancient Greeks and the Romans. But it was Dom Pierre Pérignon, a Benedictine monk living in 17th-century France, who discovered the advantages of cork as a stopper of champagne bottles. This triggered a major change in the management of cork oak forests which remains until today. The production of wine stoppers has great economic importance for Portugal, which produces approximately 50% of the cork harvested annually in the world.

The magic of Cork

There is no other material, either manmade or natural, with all the residential properties as well as features that are one-of-a-kind to cork: lightweight, rot immune, compressible as well as recoverable, expanding, fire resistant in its all-natural state, impermeable, soft, and resilient.

Cork has amazing characteristics to apply in sports equipment. Yoga? Surfing? Golf? Pierre is taking up the challenge!

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