Tito Silva Cashew Winery (João Pessoa, PB)
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Last update: 04/06/2015
Founded by journalist Tito Henrique da Silva in the city of João Pessoa, Paraíba in 1892, the Fábrica de Vinhos de Caju Tito Silva (Tito Silva Cashew Winery) was the nation’s oldest and largest cashew wine producer, a beverage that was popular in the Northeast for a long time. The winery won several awards recognising the quality of its products throughout its history, including one in Brussels in 1911 and another at the Brazil Centennial Exposition in 1922, in Rio de Janeiro.
At Tito Silva, the cashew wine’s production process was very artisanal, its manufacturing was homemade and just the family worked on the production line – the only employees were his wife and his son until 1917. Only from the 1940s, thanks to imports of machinery from England and the United States, did the process cease to be artisanal, although the traditional way of processing was preserved. In this first half of the twentieth century, the factory was able to produce twenty tons of cashew wine daily, with the product gaining wide acceptance in the market and sold in several regions of the country, and even in Germany and the United States. Production rose to its highest levels and the winery consumed 25-30 tons of cashew apple per day. The plantations that had been around the factory disappeared, thanks both to the increased production as well as using cashew scraps for charcoal production, forcing the owners resort to using the cashew plantations in other cities of Paraíba and Rio Grande do Norte, increasing the cost of production.
It is important to note that Tito Silva & Co. did not only market their famous cashew wine through various brands such as Lagrima de Ouro and Restaurador (Healer). In addition to producing, the company also sold products from other states, such as wines and vinegars. Tito Silva provided the local market of João Pessoa with products other than cashew wine: grape wine and jaboticaba wine, vinegar, alcohol, cachaça and gin, as well as fruit sweets made from genipap and, of course, cashew itself.
Around 1964, the winery began to have financial problems. The amount of capital required to maintain and expand the level of production exceeded the profits from the sale of the product. Additionally the high tax rate, which reached 46% of production, brought many financial problems for both Tito Silva and for small manufacturers around the Northeast.
Then, in the 1970s, the important role of cashew in Brazil’s socioeconomic and cultural contexts, especially in the Northeast, enabled the National Centre for Cultural Reference (CNRC) to ‘discover’ Tito Silva in a study that aimed to outline the cashew’s representation in Brazilian culture. The study showed the importance of cashew wine’s production technique as an important element of identity. Aloísio Magalhães, who was the head of the CNRC at the time, created new directions in Brazilian heritage policies, seeking at first to recognize ‘know-how’ values as national heritages. The idea of preserving a technique related to a product consumed by the lower classes showed the great interest of the government to become closer to the popular cultural manifestations. Finally, in 1984, the winery’s building was listed, which was also the year that the winery ceased its activities definitively.
After the winery’s closure, the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation received an important archive related to it: the collection of commercial labels of products sold by Tito Silva & Company. Maria Olga Silva, one of the winery’s heirs, donated a collection to FUNDAJ in 1985 that included, in addition to the commercial labels, other graphic material belonging to the business, such as advertisements and office supplies, in a total of 676 documents.
The winery’s revitalization project and recovery of its techniques envisioned in 1984 was unsuccessful, and Tito Silva was abandoned until 1997, when a restoration process of the building began, which was completed only in 2003. Today, this building is occupied by João Pessoa Workshop School, a social project that enables young adults to work in conservation and restoration of João Pessoa’s Historical City Centre.
Recife, 22 October 2013.
Translated by Peter Leamy, April 2015.
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SILVA, Roberto Sabino da. Litígios patrimoniais: as disputas pela representação do patrimônio nacional (1967-1984). Dissertação (Mestrado em Museologia e Patrimônio) – Centro de Ciências Humanas e Sociais, Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro e Museu de Astronomia e Ciências Afins, Rio de Janeiro, 2012.
TITO Silva: a preservação arquitetônica e tecnológica. Boletim do SPHAN/Pró-memória, Brasília, n. 29, p. 25-26, mar./abr. 1984.
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Source: CANTARELLI, Rodrigo. Tito Silva Cashew Winery (João Pessoa, PB). Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife. Available at: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Accessed: day month year. Ex. 6 ago. 2009.