Cork oak is spread out all over the country. It can be found in all regions, though most notably in Alentejo. Cork, for which Portugal is the world's top exporter, is among other things, used to make bottle corks, but patience is required in its production. Indeed, the tree must reach the age of 20 to 30 years before undergoing its first ?stripping' (cork harvest), then another nine years will be necessary before a second one. It is only after the third ?corking' that the cork is usable. The planks are then piled up in the open air, later boiled, and finally sorted by thickness and quality. The natural bottle corks will be made out of higher quality cork, whereas lesser quality cork will be turned into shoe soles or table wine corks.
Portuguses cork trees account for about 50% of the world cork production© Inacio Pires / 123RF
Conditions are favourable for Cork Oak in Portugal© Inacio Pires / 123RF
Cork is obtained from the bark of the cork oak tree© Inacio Pires / 123RF