Wine Enthusiast names Alentejo as one of 2016's Top Wine Travel Destinations!

Jan 15, 2016

 

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Rustic charm meets ready-to-drink reds in Portugal’s most relaxed winemaking region.

 

portugalmap-147x300_CA.pngWith miles of vineyards and cork oak trees, historic hilltop cities and deserted beaches—not to mention increasingly varied hotels and restaurants—Alentejo has something for every visitor. Portugal’s largest region, Alentejo covers a third of the country, stretching north and east of Lisbon, south toward the southern Algarve coast and east to Spain. Known as the breadbasket of Portugal, there are mountains in the north and vast plains of cereals in the south. —Roger Voss

A Cadeia Quinhentista

Where to Stay

Over the last decade, contemporary hotels, restored convents and winery B&Bs have sprung up in Alentejo. For a modern hotel experience within historic environs, stay at M’AR De AR Aqueduto (formerly the Sepulveda Palace), which boasts minimalist decor and a pretty courtyard. The luxurious Convento do Espinheiro is housed in a beautifully renovated 15th-century convent and offers tours of the ornate chapel and cloisters. Herdade da Malhadinha Nova offers B&B-style accommodations in the heart of a winery and vineyard, including activities like horseback riding and art exhibitions.

Other Activities

If your luggage space allows, don’t miss a visit to Arraiolos, north of Évora. Its long history of making carpets and tapestries dates back as far as the Moors. Dozens of small shops line the town’s narrow, winding streets, inviting visitors to admire traditional designs featuring flowers, ­animals and stylized patterns. A few more adventurous souls are making modern designs. In addition to the region’s wines, these hand-stitched textiles make the ultimate souvenirs.

Where to Dine

Alentejo cuisine is simple, often revolving around large portions of meat and vegetables. More sophisticated interpretations are popping up as tapas (called petiscos in Portuguese). Go to Tasquinha do Oliveira in Évora for an authentic husband-and-wife-run restaurant. There are six tables and, beware, the petiscos just keep coming before the main course. Further east, dine in a former jail at A Cadeia Quinhentista in the hilltop town of Estremoz. Stop for a drink at the rooftop bar before descending into the depths of a former prison tower for dinner. The spacious Restaurante Herdade do Esporão provides a true winery restaurant experience, boasting a terrace and the chance to taste high-scoring wines from its 4,000-acre estate.

 

 


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