Turismo del vino en Alentejo
In the group of Portuguese wines, those produced in Alentejo stand out. The name is derived from Além-tejo, which means “beyond the Tagus”, and encompasses the southern part of the neighboring country, from the Tagus river to Algarve. This area is experimenting an increase both in quality and general knowledge of its wines as in the variety of activities offered to the wine tourist.
The Alentejo area
The Alentejo region has its roots in a grand wine-making tradition; thus, archaeological excavations in some of the Roman villas in the area, such as the Sâo Cucufate, have unearthed wine presses where wine has been made since the 1st century BC.
With its capital in Évora, Alentejo is divided in eight wine areas (Portalegre, Borba, Redondo, Reguenjos, Vidigueira, Évora, Granja-Amareleja, and Moura); the wines produced in these areas had initially independent Designations of Origin because of the wide differences between them until 1998, when they joined together under the generic designation of Alentejo.
This is a region where the wines produced are strongly influenced by the geology and climate of each zone, in such a way that the wide range of these zones causes a great variety of soils (sand, granite, clay…) as well as climate, the hot and dry weather being dominant.
Wine and grapes in Alentejo
Alentejo has more than 59.000 acres of vines that produce more than 400.000 hectoliters of wine; from the wide variety produced, there are some wines worth mentioning:
Terras do Sado
These are wines produced in the coastal northern part of Alentejo, near the city of Setúbal, characterized by being “generoso” wines, sweet, and made with the Moscatel grape.
Wines from the South of Alentejo
These are wines produced in the largest expansion of Alentejo, in general, are wines in which the alcohol content is very high, around 15%.
Regarding the grapes used in Alentejo, the Trincadeira variety is the most commonly used, producing some wines with plum and chocolate notes. It is especially indicated for the production of superior wines.
Some wine tourism activities in Alentejo
Recently wine tourism in Alto Alentejo and Bajo Alentejo has been a revitalizing factor in the rural landscape of the area, so the growth of wine tourism that it has experienced is significant, mainly with visitors arriving from the United States.
The travelers interested in wine and history could visit places that seem like they have stopped in time, such as Vila de Frades or Vila Alva, knowing traditional wine production methods very close to the ones used by the Romans more than twenty centuries ago.
To complete the trip, Alentejo offers the wine tourist more modern activities such as a revitalizing wine therapy treatment or a ride on a hot air balloon to contemplate the bird´s eye view of the vineyards surrounding Évora. There is also the possibility to gather and afterwards cook the typical fruits and vegetables of the area, all paired, of course, with the spectacular wines of the region, making wine tourism in Portugal a pleasure for the senses.