If you haven’t planned your vacation or just need a break that includes contact with nature, afternoons spent by the pool, and dinners with memorable wines then please accept my recommendations.
More and more wineries are opening their cellar doors to visitors and many don't stop there! They also provide the option of dining in their restaurant, which is sometimes run by a renowned chef, as well as staying overnight in dream accommodations like a converted convent or even a wine barrel.
e.no.tu.ris.mo masculine noun
Type of tourism in rural areas linked to wine production, which allows tourists to follow and learn about wine-making activities and/or participate in them.
By invitation I stopped by Quinta do Ameal in Refoios (Ponte de Lima) and to the south, I visited and stayed overnight at Torre de Palma in Monforte, Alentejo. They are two very different options due to the size and surroundings of the properties that will certainly appeal to your sportier or epicurean side. Let's start in the North.
Quinta do Ameal
Travel time: 15 minutes from Ponte de Lima; 1h from Porto; 3h40 from Lisbon by car
Herdade do Esporão, in Reguengos de Monsaraz (Alentejo), was the first wine tourism enterprise to be certified in Portugal (1997). With the acquisition of Quinta dos Murças and Quinta do Ameal, Esporão expanded its wine tourism offer to the Douro and Vinho Verde regions, respectively.
Quinta do Ameal, located in the valley of the river Lima, has 30 hectares and 800 meters of river bank. Records from 1710 confirm the existence of Quinta do Ameal, today synonymous with wines from the Loureiro variety. Unique wines, with character and the ability to evolve that reflect the different expressions of the Loureiro variety from the 14 hectares of vineyards.
“The Quinta do Ameal Wine Tourism is a refuge and the starting point to discover the Lima Valley and the Loureiro grape variety”
Quinta do Ameal is perfect for those looking for privacy, comfort, and a set of experiences in harmony with nature. Guided kayak tours on the river, bike tours, and river trekking along the Lima River eco route. Or, to just relax and enjoy the silence of nature… Preferably by the pool with a glass of Ameal Loureiro in your hand!
During the hottest hours, head to the gate next to the new winery (inaugurated in 2021) and in the shade of the trees take a walk along the Lima River.
The gastronomic offer in the region is varied, however, if you prefer to stay at the accommodation (Casa da Vinha with its private patio is my favourite) order take away from one of the regional restaurants in the neighborhood and buy wine Quinta do Ameal gift shop.
If your plans are just to visit Quinta do Ameal, after strolling through the vineyards and visiting the new winery (opened in 2021) you’ll be able to appreciate the range made up of the four wines on site or do a unique tasting of old vintages. Direct bookings here Quinta do Ameal.
Do you need to sleep at the vineyard to do wine tourism?
I did my first training in wine tourism in 2005 and since then I have followed the evolution of the national market. I verify that wine tourism has proved to be relevant for the development, enhancement, and promotion of Portuguese territories. Allowing people to settle in rural areas and increasing the business of local commercial establishments, restaurants and service companies.
However, there are some doubts about what wine tourism is and I hear them both from the tourist side and from the wine producer, so before we go any further it is important to clarify:
1) A visit to a winery, vineyard, or wine tasting at the place of production is considered to be wine tourism. It does not necessarily imply sleeping on site.
2) You don't need to know a lot about wine or even like to drink wine! It will probably be a way of getting to know more or even starting to like it. Even if this is not in your plans, the cultural and historical surroundings of the wine-producing estates, the contact with nature, the people, and the gastronomic offer I believe are sufficient factors to join a wine tourism tour.
3) Having a meal in a restaurant, or staying in a hotel, both located on a wine-producing farm, does not require a big expense. The only risk is to go drink good wines!
Two summers of vacationing in their own country have led the Portuguese to discover and come into contact with various wine producers. They visit vineyards and wineries, taste the wines, and in some cases even have lunch at the Quinta or stay overnight. In the end, they buy a bottle or box of wine to take home with them to help them reminisce.
You don't have to visit wineries or drink wine from morning to night to call yourself a wine tourist.
You can choose to complement a weekend or day trip. Or take a detour off the highway to visit a winery and taste their wines, even if they are on their way home from a trip. All this is wine tourism.
And remember that the entire territory of mainland Portugal has vineyards, so you’ll easily find a vineyard with open doors to welcome you.
Torre de Palma
Travel time: 10 minutes from Monforte; 30 minutes from Estremoz; 1 h from Évora; 2 hours from Lisbon
The name Torre de Palma Wine Hotel leaves no doubt. The five-star hotel owned by the couple Ana Isabel Rebelo and Paulo Barradas Rebelo was born in 2014 on an estate that dates back to 1338 and whose restoration of the buildings, including the tower, preserves the beginnings of its history.
“Inspired by the way of life of the distinguished Basilii family (former inhabitants of the nearby Roman ruins of Torre de Palma) and Alentejo traditions.”
There are seven hectares of vineyards, one for each variety (Alvarinho, Antão Vaz, Arinto, Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez, Tinta Miuda, Touriga Nacional). The boutique winery comprises a barrel room, tasting room and production area. It is possible to do wine tasting, including samples from barrels, and blind tastings among others.
If you’re traveling with children, alternatively, they can do a treasure hunt, a gastronomy workshop, or help brush the horses and feed them, followed by a short walk in the arena. Torre de Palma has an equestrian center with Lusitano horses. Riding a buggy, taking lessons in vaulting, and horseback riding are other possible experiences.
And don’t be like me. Do remember to pack your bathing suit and this way you can choose the outdoor pool or the indoor pool by the SPA.
But what you really have to do at the end of the day is go up to the Tower and enjoy a magnificent sunset with a 360º view over the Alentejo - no equipment needed.
Then go down, cross the patio and have dinner at the Palma restaurant (Best Restaurant APENO Awards 2022) where you can pair, for example, the red wine from Alicante Bouschet and Tinta Miúda with Alentejo pork at low temperature with green asparagus migas, created by Miguel Laffan, the Resident Executive Chef of Torre de Palma.
Wine tourism is a trend that is here to stay! I hope I have inspired your vacation planning.
When in the city of Lisbon, you can delight yourself too with the best Portuguese wines and gastronomy in one of my wine and food walking tours. ith me! Send me a message HERE.