The Vale D. Maria project holds within it the memory of the Douro wine region. A time when the region was not yet using the term Vinho do Porto and the van Zellers were already established in the trade of wine produced on the Douro escarpments. There are more than three centuries of a continuous presence of the trade and production of Port wines and Douro wines, along with many long relationships. The van Zeller family were the proprietors of a number of legendary farms in the region, including: Quinta de Roriz (owned today by Symington Family Estates) and Quinta do Noval, sold in 1993.
In 1996, the father and enologist, Cristiano van Zeller, took control of Quinta Vale D. Maria. This bequest from the mother of Francisca van Zeller was a property that had been in the family since 1868. When he got the farm, there were 19 hectares of vineyard in good condition, a house to live in and a cellar, both in a state of disrepair. Today, the Vale D. Maria enterprise controls close to 45 hectares of vineyard (28 hectares of which are between 60 and 80 years old;12 hectares of vineyard with 30 years; and a new plantation of five hectares). The house was repaired, and the new cellar, opened in 2000, holds four traditional granite winepresses with a capacity of five tons of grapes, which allows for microvinification.
In 2006, the family added two brands to its portfolio of Vale D. Maria wines: the revered van Zeller and VZ labels which Cristiano van Zeller received as a Christmas present from cousin João van Zeller.
The motto that the wine must be made on the vineyard has been adopted by the family. At Quinta Vale D. Maria, they continue to plant mixed grape varieties arranged in dense and tightly-packed rows, a practice that is not agreed on by all viticulturists.
In total, the farm has 41 different grape varieties, planted in schist-laden soil with various angles of direct sunlight, and practices a sustainable type of farming. There is a record of all the animal life that inhabits the farm, of every fruit tree that has been planted, and of every foot of vineyard. They utilize aromatic and medicinal plants that grow on the farm, such as the herb horsetail and nettles, in order to nourish, recalibrate, and induce resistance to pests that may harm the grapevines. Consistent with their other methods of biological production, they also practice certified organic composting to revitalize the soils in a more productive, natural, and sustainable manner.