The Alentejo region of Portugal takes up almost a third of the country, spanning over 10,000 square miles. This land is rich in history. Roman ruins continue to be excavated, while ancient structures pre-dating Stonehenge sit in cow pastures, amongst cork trees, and in vineyards. What draws people to this region is not necessarily the history or old ruins, but the wine production. Alentejo is not known the world over like its cousin to the north, Douro Valley. But, it is considered by many, one of the best places to produce wine in the world. There are over 250 wine producers who call the Alentejo home. This article will highlight seven wineries, where their passion for making great wine is unsurpassed.
Enoteca Cartuxa – Evora is a perfect home base to begin your Alentejo wine journey. Some of Alentejo’s finest restaurants fill the interior of this walled city and Cartuxa, a major winery, has a tasting room right next to the Roman Temple. Granted, this location is not a winery, but Cartuxa has a big production and this tasting room offers the full range of Cartuxa wines to choose from. A great location to meet other wine aficionados, so plan on spending a couple of hours enjoying Cartuxa wines and meeting new friends. While here, we recommend enjoying a glass of Charterhouse White, and the Pera-Manca Red. We also recommend to either have some tapas with your wine or enjoy a full meal while there. We highly recommend the Goat Cottage Cheese if they have it.
Monte da Ravasqueira This winery was established in 1943 and has grown to almost 3000 hectares. A standard walking tour of the vast property details the history of the vineyard, the various grape varieties and their massive cork tree farm. A highlight of the tour is their impressive collection of museum quality carriages. Upon visiting the property, one can see they take great care to preserve the past, while creating consistently appreciated wines. We joined others in the tasting room and tried every wine in their portfolio. The recommendations for tastings would be the Premium Rose, the Family Reserve Red, and the White Top White.
Fita Preta Vinhos – Fita Preta was established in 2017, but its 100 hectares estate has structural remnants dating back to 1306. A tour of this location takes you through the wine production process, the archaeological finds on the property, and where wine is stored, which just happens to be the family home. It is truly a family business as they also have wine production in Douro Valley, and also in the Azores. The property is carefully preserved. You feel like you have stepped back into time walking through the estate. The wines produced here are some of the best Portugal has to offer. Full disclosure, this is our favorite winery in all of Portugal because we haven’t found a wine they produce that we don’t enjoy. You may find yourself in trouble trying to figure out what wines to test drive. We would highly recommend tasting them all. If that idea stretches your budget too far, for a red we suggest, the Tauriga vai Nua. For a white the Palpite Branco, and if they have any left in stock, purchase a bottle of Preta Homenagem David Booth 2019.
Herdade do Esporao – One of the largest wine and olive oil producers in Portugal, this large estate grows over 40 grape varieties and 4 types of olives. It also boasts a Michelin Star restaurant. Esporao offers wine and olive oil tours. Each tour provides a detailed outline of their history, their processes, but also the history of the region. The restaurant delivers spectacular meals along with a stunning view of the countryside. At the end of 2022 the restaurant earned their first Michelin star. First, we suggest doing the olive oil tasting. You may be there for the wine, but one gains a greater appreciation for olive oil varieties and production by sampling Esporao’s selections. Two olive oils in particular are worth purchasing for home use, the Galician, and, Selection. Reservations for the restaurant need to be made months in advance, but if you get in, you will recall the dining experience for years to come. For your wine tasting, we recommend including the Private Selection Red and Private Selection White. You will most likely buy a bottle or two to enjoy during the rest of your trip through Portugal.
Herdade das Servas – Northeast of Evora sits this lovely winery where the family has been producing wine in Alentejo since 1667. With a little over 350 hectares of land, some of their vines are over 75 years old. The reception and tasting area offers up many vintage pieces of wine making memorabilia. There is plenty of room inside and outside to sit for a tasting or enjoy a bottle with friends. For wines, we would recommend the Touriga Nacional Rose, and the Colheita Selection white.
Herdade do Freixo – This winery and artistic wonder, this is a unique blend of architectural excellence housing award winning wines. Constructed below the vineyard, the building blends seamlessly into the landscape. The tour slowly winds like a corkscrew into the operations area and main cellars, it feels like you are entering a bottle of wine. Freixo makes you feel like you are enjoying fine art and wine all at once. Two wine recommendations jump off their impressive list. First, go for the Ash Sauvignon Blanc, and fall in love with their Family Collection Red.
Herdade do Sobroso Covering over 1600 hectares, this is a playground for someone wanting a next level wine experience. High end accommodations and a superb restaurant along with the carefully crafted landscape, creates a one of a kind experience in the Alentejo. The hotel is often booked out months in advance, and we recommend booking a tasting a few weeks beforehand. Of the many activities around the estate, hot air ballooning and horseback riding give you a unique perspective of what this region has to offer. For wine choices, we would recommend trying the Cellar Selection Red, Cellar Selection Rose, and Reserva Branco.