Wine is inextricably linked with the history of Portugal, which has a long tradition in the production of this drink. All regions of the country have wineries open to tourists. They can either enjoy great labels and great food or stay at some of these properties. In some cases, the schedule includes participation in the harvest, during the harvest period, which runs from August to September.
Over the past two decades, wine tourism in Portugal has served as an excuse for travelers to Brazil to also experience nature, culture and a little bit of the Portuguese. An opportunity to plunge into a country that is not limited to the capital Lisbon, but whose interior bears equally recognizable traces of our origin in the cultivation of grapes.
According to Filipe Silva, director of Visit Portugal, the country’s official tourism promotion agency, this willingness to explore Portugal’s territory is easy to spot. “More and more Brazilians are interested in gastronomic and wine routes,” he says. Silva says about 170,000 tourism professionals have been retrained in the past two years, many of them in the wine tourism industry. “The Brazilians who come to us today are demanding and experienced, so we must be ready,” he adds.
No one has to be an expert to enjoy a wine tour in Portugal. But you can learn a little about tannin, recognize notes (aromas), and even figure out which label goes with which food (pairing) by visiting some wineries. “For those who visit Portugal, it is natural to think of two regions, Alentejo and Douro, with their history and traditions,” says Sonia Martins, chief winemaker and chairman of the board of Lusovini, a winery located in Nelas, a town 30 minutes away. from Viseu, in the Dao area.
The Alentejo Route combines tradition and gems
In Portugal’s largest region, 73 growers are affiliated with the Alentejo Regional Commission for Viticulture (CVRA), based in Évora. In this space, visitors can taste four local wines (€5 per person, for 50 minutes). The Alentejo real estate program is also available here, such as Adega Cartuxa, Pera Manca house. Considered one of the best in the world, its production does not exceed 40,000 bottles.
Viticulture in Alentejo also belongs to the traces of the Roman occupation of the region about 2 thousand years ago. The most notable legacy is the taglia wine, produced in an artisanal way using a technique in which the grapes are fermented in huge earthenware tanks. Honored Vineyards and Adega Cooperativa Vidigueira, Cuba and Alvito are examples of where this ancient tradition can be tasted. In Ervideira, a process of interest is known as water wine, in which part of the maturation of the drink is made in bottles immersed in the lake of Alqueva.
The past permeates every trip to Portugal, guaranteeing tourists a real experience. The headquarters of the former Order of the Hospitallers, the fortress-monastery of Flor da Rosa was turned into a luxurious hotel. In it, the guest sleeps in a medieval room, but with the comfort and service of modern hotels. It is 22 km from the city of Portalegre, in the Serra de San Mamede, the site chosen by Sonia Martins for the development of Sericaia, the Lusovini label in Alentejo.
To the Douro, to the world of wine in Porto
The Douro is considered to be the world’s oldest demarcated manufacturing region (1756), producing a piece that many experts consider difficult. In addition to fame and popularity, especially in 18th century England, port brought headaches to the Portuguese due to numerous attempts to fake the drink. That is why it became necessary to create a controlled zone of origin, which was done about a century later in French Bordeaux.
Today, those who visit the city in northern Portugal cannot escape the temptation to take part in tours of wine cellars such as Taylor’s and Sandeman, followed by tastings of vintage (with its classic dark color) or tawny (yellow version of the drink). ).
Since 2020, the historic center of Vila Nova de Gaia, a city neighboring Porto, has gained a new attraction. The World of Wine (WOW) is a complex associated with wine and gastronomy, consisting of 12 restaurants, bars and cafes. This separate world also has theme shops, seven museums and a wine school where master classes and tastings are organized for specialists and, of course, the curious.
Those who decide to drive along the roads of the Douro region will find along the way a large number of plantations on the mountain slopes of the river. Places like Mesan Frio, Peso da Régua and Vila Real are surrounded by vineyards. For Sonya Martins of Lusovini, small objects allow for closer contact with the manufacturer, which can lead to a more interesting experience. “If you can go to a small farm, if you can talk to the owner, find out how the brand came about, or talk to a local winemaker, maybe it’s something more authentic,” he explains.
In 2018, Quinta do Val Moreira received a re-qualification for wine tourism and has a 250-year history of producing Port and Douro wines. Part of the territory is occupied by Vila Galé Douro Vineyards, one of the largest hotel chains in Portugal. Stopping there, you can contemplate the river, walk through the vineyards, olive groves and even see the flowering almond trees. Cruise along the waters of Tedo and Douro to visit other wineries in the region is one of the hotel’s offerings.
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Natalia Molina and Fernando Victorino are travel journalists interested in places, cultures and stories. For more tips and experiences, follow @ComoViaja on Instagram and Facebook.