Tinto Cão

Synonyms: Castellana Negra, Farmento, Tinta Cão
Keywords: anthocyanin, high quality, hot climate, Portuguese, red wine, and wine

Tinto Cão is a historic wine grape from Portugal and is primarily grown in the Douro, Dão, and Lisbon regions. It is used in port wines as well as dry table reds, roses, and dessert wines globally. Tinto Cão produces full-bodied wines with fruity and floral aromas. The variety has high vigor and good fruit quality in hot and dry climates, though yields may be relatively low. In the Parlier (Fresno County, California) trial it exhibited low to moderate yields and little rot.

Adaptability: Warm to Hot
Berry Color: Black
Berry Maturity: Mid-Season to Late Season
Berry Size: Small
Cluster Compactness: Loosely Compact
Cluster Size: Small to Medium
Fruit Use: Wine
Product Flavor: Floral, Fruity
Pruning: Spur
Seeds: Seeded
Soluble Solids: 24° Brix
Species / Varieties in Pedigree: Vitis vinifera
Vine Vigor: High
Yield Potential: Moderate


Figure 3 Tinto Cão shoot. Image Courtesy of Foundation Plant Services

Figure 3 Tinto Cão shoot. Image Courtesy of Foundation Plant Services

Figure 4 Tinto Cão leaf. Image Courtesy of Foundation Plant Services

Figure 4 Tinto Cão leaf. Image Courtesy of Foundation Plant Services

A cluster of Tinto Cão grapes.

A cluster of Tinto Cão grapes.

Origins and History

Tinto Cão is a wine grape dating back to the 17th century in the Douro and Dão regions of northern Portugal; it is now predominantly grown in the Douro, Dao, and Lisbon regions. Recent studies have established a genetic relation between Viosinho, Tinta Francisca, and Tinta Cão. Also, Tinto Cão is a parent of the Rubired variety. 

The name Tinto Cão means “Red Dog;” though the meaning behind the name is uncertain. Traditionally Tinto Cão was used in port winemaking, and while it still is, its use has grown to include dry table wines, roses, and dessert wines.

Vine Traits

Tinto Cão has large, thin, five-lobed leaves. The leaves also have shallow sinuses that are sometimes toothed. The clusters are loosely compact, small to medium in size, and can be double or single winged with a conical or cylindrical shape. Berries are round, black, and small with thick skin and blue hues. 

Tinto Cão is generally known for its lower yields and high vigor. Hot to warm and dry climates are favored by the vine, and are needed for the fruit to reach maturity.

Vineyard Considerations

Spur-pruned Tinto Cão vines in a Parlier (Fresno County, California) trial were moderately productive with the yields averaging 9.4 tons per acre between 2007-2009. Low levels of rot were also noted during these trials (Table 1).


In Portugal Tinto Cão is an important component of port wines, it is also used for dry reds and rose wines. Tinto Cão makes a deeply colored, full bodied table wine with the capacity to age and has fruity and floral aromas. The variety is also used for dessert wines in Israel, Australia, and the United States.



Schneider, A., Mainardi, G., Raimondi, S. & Viala, P. Illustrated Historical Universal Ampelography - Grape Varieties From Around The World (Ampelografia Universale Storica Illustrata - I Vitigni Del Mondo). (L’artistica editrice, 2012).

Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo. Tinto Cao. Available at: https://www.vivairauscedo.com/en/product-sheet/tinto-cao/ (Accessed 6th June 2023)

Robinson, J., J. Harding, J. Vouillamoz. 2012. Wine Grapes. HarperCollins, New York


Roy Wallfish

Roy Wallfish

UC Davis Graduate Student

Article Submitted: June 26, 2023
Article Updated: