Updated: Jul 27, 2021
Alentejo is one of the most sun gifted regions of Portugal :) Squeezed between the Algarve and Tagus River it has excellent conditions for mature red wine. Many winemakers have to irrigate their vineyards as summer temperatures can easily reach 40-50 °C.
Grape varieties in Alentejo
Local heat resistant varieties like Aragonez (Tempranillo), Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira (indigenous to Alentejo) and heat resistant 'foreigners' like Syrah, Alicante Bouschet and Cabernet Sauvignon don't mind the sun. In Alentejo wine region you can see producers that don't betray their rare wine varietals but also 'embed' these sun-friendly 'foreigners'.
Some background on Alentejo wine region
Today it's Portugal's least populated region, although it occupies 1/3 of the country's territory and is the most agricultural part of it. However, agriculture is not treated as a profitable business anymore and many people left their lands relocating to city life or abroad.
In the past the government tried to solve this problem by relocating people from densly-populated north to Alentejo. They were given land to work, a brand new house - just please stay here in this 40+ °C summer heat and work :)
This resulted in whole villages of Alentejo being covered with similarly looking white houses with an adjacent plot to them.
Unfortunately, there were not only abandoned houses and plots, but also abandoned vineyards on our way.
But the prestige of owning a winery returned many people back from the city-life and office-jobs to their lands. Some finally realized what a jewel they inherited, others spend all the money they earned throughout life to buy a vineyard and produce something more durable than a human life.
As population (and pollution) shrunk, Alentejo became home to the world’s first Starlight Tourist Destination – the Dark Sky Alqueva Reserve.
Alentejo Wine Route
As I said before, Alentejo is a heaven of red wine. Their style is fruity, light tannins, easy-going, just like local people. There are 60 wineries that offer wine tasting tours in Alentejo region. Among them the best wineries in Portugal. And all these very easily accessible from Lisbon. There is usually no traffic as soon as you exit the capital. You can collect a wine route map from Evora Wine Route Centre or book your wine tasting on the centre's website online. There are private companies offering wine tours with a pick-up in Lisbon as well, and some even day tours to Southern Portugal wineries that include lunch.
All along your way in Alentejo you'll be surrounded by impressive cork trees!
It's a gold business in Portugal, whic