This new organic property boasting wine tourism activities is indeed a special place and an essential stop for wine lovers visiting the Alto Alentejo region.
“My back garden is a nature reserve. My balcony is a viewpoint. And my house an agro-tourism unit”. These are just some of the words that João Afonso uses to advertise his latest investment, a small rural property in Serra de São Mamede, in the Alentejo region, which has a strong wine bent: logically-speaking, because it produces wine (Solstício red and Equinócio white), and also because it boasts a variety of activities connected to the wines produced there (as well as others).
And what makes a Coimbra-born PE teacher and ballet dancer with the Gulbenkian Foundation get involved with a wine project in the Alentejo? João Afonso has always liked wine, and became even more interested when his wife offered him the book Knowing and Making Wine, by Émile Peynaud. This was the tome that changed his life, after leaving dance behind at the peak of his career. In the meantime, he began studying the subject seriously and started writing for the Portuguese wine magazine Revista de Vinhos, specialising in the area and working on national and international panels, as well as giving talks on wine and teaching. In the middle of all this, he also produced wine on a family project in Castelo Branco, where he lived for many years; however, his desire to strike out on his own proved too strong.
In 2009, he discovered the property he was looking for, which boasted, according to João, “one of the most beautiful views in the Alentejo, at an altitude of 600 metres, next to the source of the River Caia”. And, when we visited it, we understand why he is so impressed. The view is really remarkable and the property well-cared for. It covers almost 8 hectares, 4.5 of which are vineyard, with the remaining land containing olive groves, vegetable gardens, local fruit trees, a chicken coop, garden and wood, all using organic production methods. The house has eight rooms and three apartments furnished with all creature comforts to welcome visitors. The vineyard has a large number of different grape varieties and is connected with the olive grove and the fruit trees. In the small winery, there are only traditional vinification recipients: cement vats and clay vessels that were already in the old house and a traditional wine press. Next door, there is a barrel cellar where the wines are stored.
With the experience that he has acquired over the years, João Afonso also organises tastings that may involve wines from the Alentejo, including his own, as well as ones from other regions of the country, or theme tastings, such as “organic wines” or “1990s vintage ports”. These tastings can include regional petiscos (Portuguese version of tapas) with different cheeses and cold and smoked meats. Also, there are wine courses for those interested in perfecting their knowledge. At harvest times, visitors can pick grapes, crush them in the press, perform the racking process and, finally, bottle and label the wine, all the while following the process at close quarters. Other activities at the property include collecting eggs from the coop, picking olives and vegetables for salad or fruit for dessert. Before returning home, visitors can also peruse the shop and buy wine and handicraft.
Cabeças do Reguengo
Estrada dos Moleiros, 15 – Reguengo, Portalegre
+351 245 201 005
por Maria João de Almeida
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