Casa Ferrobo
Self Catering Cottages

Cork Production

Half of the world's Cork is produced in Portugal with most coming from the São Brás de Alportel region.

The Nova Cortiça 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, 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 when the discs where cut. Finally, the two are fused together and the shape of the cork is produced when it is forced into the bottle.

Nova Cortiça production line is not limited to bottle stoppers, however. 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) is made here too. Sandra, the owners 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 includes cork pens, bags, purses, watch straps and hats.

There is now a CORK TRAIL that takes you about Sao Bras and the outlying countryside.

To see more of the fascinating world of cork, why not pencil in visit to the shop in São Brás de Alportel which is opposite the park, email them at geral@pelcor.pt or visit their website at http://www.pelcor.pt

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