Alentejo, a vast territory south of Lisbon, is one of Europe’s most southern lands. Known for its restful plains, olive and cork groves, it is seen by many as a lost paradise of space and stillness. It’s a unique region of preserved landscapes and heritage, also renowned for its superb wines. Travelling across serene landscapes, you will visit towns and villages, dwell in a fascinating culture and discover the charm of a land of wine and art.
Évora, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1986, is the door to Alentejo – an ancient city of narrow streets, unforgettable churches and white, sun-washed houses. You ’ll take a guided tour through this …
The small town of Estremoz, your next stop, has given its name to a grand terroir, where the exceptional wines are the result of traditional methods allied to new technologies. You will visit some of …
Évora, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1986, is the door to Alentejo – an ancient city of narrow streets, unforgettable churches and white, sun-washed houses. You ’ll take a guided tour through this fascinating city, from the ruins of a Roman temple to precious testaments of the Portuguese Renaissance.
Nor should we forget that gastronomy, too, is an art of great refinement, as interpreted by the cooks in traditional taverns, serving their petiscos and delicious regional dishes.
Later, you’ll start to discover its regional wines and will learn to recognize the aromas of each variety. At the Adega Cartuxa, you’ll visit the grounds and cellars of Quinta de Valbom, where the old refectory of the Jesuits who taught in Évora in the 16th and 17th century has been transformed into a lovely winery. At this historic setting, you will sample some of the estate’s finest wines and olive oil varieties.
The small town of Estremoz, your next stop, has given its name to a grand terroir, where the exceptional wines are the result of traditional methods allied to new technologies. You will visit some of the region’s oldest wineries, where winemaking has been elevated to the highest form of art since 1901. Here, we will still have time for a walk around the vineyards, where the secret story behind the label of each bottle begins. The dominant variety is Alicante Bouschet, introduced in this region more than 100 years ago with outstanding results. Lunch will be at a typical Alentejo manor house or monte, set in an enchanting landscape, where you will taste the refined wines of the estate.
The town of Vila Viçosa seems lost in time. Visit the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança, heirs to the throne of Portugal. Its rooms are packed with the entangled threads of a hugely rich past of art and history. And while retracing the lives of kings and queens, we come upon wine once again: this time in a delightful 18th century baroque estate, the gift of a monarch to his mistress, which now gives the name to the estate’s famous wine. The owners will welcome us in a private visit to the estate, the old chapel and the superb winery.
At the end of the day a choice place awaits you: the old palace built by King D. Dinis at the end of the 12th century for his famous queen, Santa Isabel de Aragão. Now it is transformed into a welcoming Pousada where to spend the night.
The following day will take us to visit two border towns: Castelo de Vide and Marvão. The first is set in a natural amphitheatre of hills, a lively town whose labyrinthine streets reveal a medieval Jewish neighborhood and narrow, whitewashed houses. From a distance, Marvão appears like a fairytale mirage, with its tiny white houses amid chestnut and cork trees. Then, from the castle on the hill, the landscape overpowers us, as it must have done with the Moorish warrior Ibn Marúan in the 10th century, after whom this land is named. Arab legends intertwine with remains of the Romans who, centuries before, discovered the special quality of these lands for the production of excellent wines.
Conversing with local wine producers will enrich our experience, as we learn more about the essential nature of these wines. In this region, reds are predominant – loaded with color and with an intense aroma of fruits. The regional varieties of Aragonês, Trincadeira, Alfrocheiro and Alicante Bouschet are particularly elegant and age well in the bottle.
The end of the day finds us resting at the monastery of Santa Maria Flor da Rosa, a hybrid construction, both monastic and military, that has been renovated in a remarkable way by one of Portugal’s most renowned contemporary architects, João Luís Carrilho da Graça. We will spend the night here, savoring the hotel’s medieval ambiance.
If you wish to tailor this tour, you might be interested in knowing all the experiences and travel ideas we have thought of for you: please have a look and let us know if you have something different in mind!