The Algarve wine-producing region is coming of age. Often over-shadowed by the fine wines in northern Portugal, the quality of Algarve wines has improved in recent years with a steady increase in producers using new methodologies, and the wines are now winning international awards. Algarve wines are made from traditional Portuguese white and red grapes, but one red grape in particular – the ‘Negra Mole’ is indigenous to Algarve and unique in the world. These traditional grapes are now being combined with known international varieties like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon, creating some spectacular results.
For wine lovers, the Algarve offers some new experiences – from learning to blend your own distinctive bottle of wine, tasting on historic scenic estates, enjoying a selection of the finest wines in traditional restaurants with extensive wine cellars, to even owning your own vineyard. We have rounded up some of our favourite experiences where visitors can learn more about the Algarve wines of the moment.
The art of making wine
The Quinta dos Vales wine estate is set among rolling hills, close to the town of Lagoa. It uniquely combines wine and art side-by-side and visitors can explore the grounds with its numerous eye-catching sculptures whilst tasting a selection of premium wines. Visitors for the day can get a three-hour introduction to winemaking in the Bottle Blending Workshop (from £53 per person), during which participants learn the art of creating a unique blend with the best wines on offer at Quinta dos Vales.
For those that want to get more involved, the estate has launched a unique hands‐on project, The Winemaker Experience, which aims to turn wine‐lovers into genuine winemakers. There are several levels of involvement offered. There is the Barrel Blending Experience (from £4,737), which enables wine-lovers to produce their own 225 litre barrel of wine, with samples of existing unblended Quinta dos Vales top wines.
Wine lovers who wish to take on the winemaking challenge from the very beginning, can now Rent a Vineyard (price starting at £4,737 per year). This is the perfect opportunity to get a taste of winemaking, without a long-term commitment. It is a one-year lease, on one of the established vineyard plots of the estate, for a single harvest, to produce a vintage with the resulting grapes.
Then comes the most exclusive option, the crème de la crème of The Winemaker Experience, buying a plot in the vineyard. This step turns winemaking into an exclusive hobby or, who knows, into a new lifestyle. By buying a plot of vines with the Own a Vineyard scheme, participants can make their own wine without the risk of starting a business from scratch, and at a fraction of the price.
A vineyard that has contributed to the improving reputation of Algarve wines is Quinta do Barranco Longo, located in the centre of the region on a farmstead in Algoz. The use of technologies, combined with innovative winemaking methods have resulted in fine quality wines, recognised around the globe. Quinta do Barranco Longo carefully selects national and international grape varieties and blends them with its own.
In 2022 they will open a new state-of-the-art building that will include a wine tasting room suspended above the wine cellar and a roof top restaurant. It will be an incredible place to enjoy their wines whilst taking in the incredible countryside scenery. And if you meet the owner, Rui Virginia, ask him about his two sons – they both play /have played football for teams in the British Premier League! Wine tasting can be arranged by appointment.
For a step back in time try Morgado do Quintão, a family-owned vineyard estate founded in 1810 by the Count of Silves, located between the Silves, Monchique and Lagoa. The estate is still owned by the original family who have a passion for the land, food, heritage and entertaining. Enjoy an intimate tour and premium wine tasting experience that explores the history of the estate, its unique terroir, and its exciting wines, while you savour a local artisan cheese and charcuterie selection and as well as other beautifully prepared Algarvian delicacies by their in-house cook. All are enjoyed under their 2,000 year-old tree overlooking old Negramole vines.
Other wine estates offering vineyard tours and wine tasting include Quinta da Tor, Paxa Wines, Quinta do Outeira near Silves, Herdade Barranco do Vale in Campilhos, and Quinta da Penina near Portimao.
Wine with food
Veneza restaurant in Paderne, near Albufeira, combines the most delicious Algarvian barrocal dishes with an extensive wine cellar. Typical dishes include crab au naturel served with boiled prawns and pan fried pork loin medallions with garlic. You will have at your disposal more than a thousand brands of wine to accompany your meal. With an air-conditioned cellar and warehouse, the wines are served in exemplary conditions.
Don Sebastião restaurant in Lagos, western Algarve, has a large underground wine cellar. The cuisine is traditionally Portuguese. Main courses include pork chops with figs, succulent shellfish rice, shrimp cooked with savoury spices and grilled fresh fish. Its main attraction is the spectacular underground wine cellar that cannot be missed by wine connoisseurs. The amazing treasure trove boasts an extensive collection of wines from all over Portugal along with vintage Port and Madeira wines, plus impressive historic bottles from the owner’s private collection. The restaurants wine list carries over 240 varieties of red, white, ‘vinho verde’ and rose. Special tours of the cellar and wine tastings can be organised by prior arrangement.
The Odeceixe Winery Museum in Aljezur is housed in a former winery dating from the beginning of the 20th century. This museum provides visitors with an opportunity to find out about the process of wine production and to see some of the implements used in this activity.
For further information on the Algarve, visit visitalgarve.pt.