The Alentejo region is a perfect wine-lovers getaway. Whether you’re looking to visit the scenic, secluded local vinyards, or spend warm sunny afternoons tasting the up-and-coming Alentajo wines, there’s something for every wine connoisseur here. However, Alentejo isn’t the only region of Portugal famed for its wines - Portugal is divided in 12 major regions, from north to south, including the islands of the Azores, which all produce regional wine (Vinho Regional). There are also 29 DOC areas (designation of controlled origin) included in these regions, to guarantee that noble grapes are protected and that wine production follows controlled rules to create unique wines. Discover the Wine-lands of Portugal with us!

Portugal’s wine production has a long tradition, with the Douro being the first wine growing region worldwide, with its boundaries going back to 1756. Despite its relatively small area, Portugal occupies sixth place in the world as a wine producing country. The vast number of different wines is only possible because of the many different micro-climates and soil types that exist. These enable more than 200 different indigenous grapes to flourish and to confer specific and unique features to Portuguese wines.

The most well-known Portuguese wines are the fortified ones, like Port and Madeira, but nowadays things are different, following the appearance of good oenologists. They have enabled winemakers to modernize the production of controlled white, red and fortified table wines, which are attractive in terms of both quality and price and compete with the world’s finest.

The Alentejo is the largest region in Portugal, occupying about a third of the country. From north to south the region boasts 22,000 hectares of sun-drenched vineyards, beautiful forest parks, mountains, lush green vegetation, chestnuts, vines, olives and pines. Plains that stretch to the horizon, with cork and oak forests and livestock, complete this diverse region of hot summers and cold winters.

Although extreme heat prevails in summer, cold nights permit the vines to rest, allowing grapes to ripen easily, creating full-bodied and rich flavoured red wines. White wines, due to the hot summer temperature, are more difficult, so most of the grape varieties planted here are chosen because they can survive the summer.

Alentejo, the largest region in Portugal Alentejo, the largest region in Portugal

There are eight separate DOC (Denominação de Origem Controlada - Registered Designation of Origin) accredited sub-regions - Reguengos, Borba, Redondo, Vidigueira, Évora, Granja-Amareleja, Portalegre and Moura - and 250 independent wineries in the Alentejo, which stretch from north to south; this is because of the variation in the soils and climate. North-east vineyards are planted in the foothills of granite mountains. In the Evora area, soils are red and chalky. In Estremoz, soils often contain marble chips and, in the southern regions, soils are predominantly of limestone.

All these different soils allow the grapes to acquire different profiles which permit the production of wines that are unique in terms of taste. The Alentejo is the growing ground to some of Portugal’s best indigenous grapes. The last ten years have witnessed the rise of some international grapes like Syrah – perfectly adapted to the Alentejo’s “terroir”. However, the native Aragonês, Trincadeira and Alicante Bouschet still prevail in the plains. Besides the DOC a wine, the Alentejo also produces regional wines from many producers who want to escape the rigid rules of the appellations. Great quality can be found among such wines.

For wine lovers, tours of vineyards – often with the owners – and tastings of excellent vintages will inspire a whole new perspective on award-winning Portuguese wines. Dine in the wineries’ restaurants for the ultimate taste of the Alentejo. Currently, one in every two bottles of wine consumed in Portugal is produced in the Alentejo; yet the region is relatively young - a major producer since as recently as the 1990s.

Wine Boutique Hotel do Sobroso, Vidigueira, Alentejo Wine Boutique Hotel do Sobroso, Vidigueira, Alentejo
Rosanna Melaragni

By Rosanna Melaragni

17th April 2018



Talk to our Portugal expert

Rosanna Melaragni
Rosanna Melaragni

Rosanna is the head of our Discovery Department which covers tailor made holidays to Portugal and the Azores, Italy and Sicily, Scandinavia and the new programme to Spain. She is our longest serving member of staff having joined in 1994 after completing an honours degree in French and Italian and subsequently working for a tour operator in Yorkshire. She is responsible for brochure writing, contracting accommodation, programme costing, computer inputting and generally troubleshoots where necessary. She has global knowledge of our tailor made programme.

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We promise that a member of our specialist reservation teams will reply personally to your holiday enquiry before 5.30pm if received before 12.00pm (Monday to Friday). Enquiries received after 12.00pm will be replied to within 24-hours (excluding Sundays).

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