Meet this fascinating region
It is in the hot lands of Alentejo that some of the most prestigious national nectars are made. Discover the places where they are produced and be amazed by their beauty.
Gorgeous and stunning, the Alentejo is famous for its wheat harvests, the fields of olive and cork trees, and the immensity of the sky above it. But in recent years, the recovery of many vineyards has added an asset to these scenic charms.
Twenty-two thousand hectares of this crop now extend over vast properties. The eight inland sub-wine regions of Alentejo are: Portalegre, Borba, Reguengos, Redondo, Évora, Moura, Vidigueira and Granja-Amareleja - and their wines have been deserving a place of their own in the cellars of the most demanding gourmets from around the world.
Land and Water
But the skyline in Alentejo encloses much more than its endless plains. There are spots where hills surprise the view - as with the São Mamede, d'Ossa and Portel mountain ranges - and others where the ochre land is irrigated by bountiful rivers. The Sado goes up to Setúbal, and the Guadiana comes from Spain to have its mouth in the Algarve. In these rivers and their tributaries there are small and large dams, built to minimize the ancestral problem of drought in this territory.
The latest, and also the most impressive is the Alqueva, which led to the largest artificial lake in Europe. The presence of so much water in this arid and inhospitable landscape has transformed the site into a real must-see for anyone visiting the Alentejo. Try and go to the historic village of Monsaraz and climb up to castle. The view will leave you breathless!
Vineyards, cellars, wineries, villages, cities ...
But to know from the inside the Alentejo wine world, the best solution is to choose one of the attractive routes suggested by the Wine Route in the region. Hit the road and let yourself be lulled by the serenity of the landscape. Visit productive areas, vineyards and wineries, and take time to learn more about the towns and villages engaged in this art of the vine. You will find rural areas with unique environments, well-preserved architectural riches, a monumental historical legacy and a genuine culture, which remains alive in the people's daily life.
In Alentejo Northern area, the Route of São Mamede starts in Castelo de Vide, in the Parque Natural of the São Mamede mountain, follows by Portalegre and Alter do Chão and ends in Estremoz. The "Historic Route", on its turn, starts in Vila Viçosa and takes you to Redondo, passing through places like Borba, Arraiolos (where you can enjoy the beautiful carpets), Reguengos de Monsaraz (where you can visit the famous estate Herdade do Esporão), Montemor -o-Novo and Évora. Here, do not miss a visit to the winery Adega da Cartuxa, owned by Fundação Eugenio de Almeida, which is the birthplace of the extraordinary red Pêra Manca. And do not leave without going to the Temple of Diana.
Already in Redondo, go to the Enoteca and visit the Regional Museum of Wine. Further south, you can follow the Route of the Guadiana. It begins and ends in Mourão and goes as far as Viana do Alentejo, passing by Moura, Vidigueira and Alvito. In all these courses, you can easily find wine producers who will warmly welcome you and let you learn about its vineyards, wineries and wine cellars. In the tasting rooms, taste them all: from the slightly acidic and fruity soft white, to the full bodied red, soft and harmonious, rich in tannins and aromas of red fruits. Many of these sites include restaurants that serve dishes of traditional cuisine. Some even provide accommodation for those who can not resist spending the night in the idyllic setting of an Alentejo typical farm. All producers have also available a wine shop where you can purchase these extraordinary nectars at most attractive prices.
Denomination of Origin (Appellation)
The growing of vineyards has existed since the Roman occupation, but it was in the 80s that the Alentejo has revolutionized its wine producing ability. The producers organized themselves, formed associations and revitalized the cooperatives. They started growing white varieties like Roupeiro, Antão Vaz and Arinto, and reds as Trincadeira, Aragonez, Castelão and Alicante Bouschet. The region's growing importance in the sector and the exceptional quality of many of its wines led to its official demarcation in 1988. Thereafter it began using the Appellation/Denomination of Controlled Origin (DOC) "Alentejo", and this name has come to have international relevance.
Surrender to the invitation of the inland southern region and try to unravel the secret of its precious nectars. Stroll, relax and indulge in the gastronomic treasures of the region. Taste the famous bread, cheese and wonderful olive oil. Enjoy every moment with joy and tranquility. On the last day, do not forget to book for your return. With a glass of fine wine from Alentejo, make a toast to this unique piece of land!