1.5 million bottles of “vegan” wine are produced by the winery annually
The Algarve Wine Society enjoyed its first winery trip since pre-Covid last week when it made a return visit to the Ribafreixo Winery in Vidigueira. Members and guests of no less than seven nationalities formed the friendly group.
Ribafreixo was a green field site when owner Mário Pinheiro and his agronomist partner, Nuno Bica, purchased it back in 2007. Today it is a magnificent, thriving winery complete with 114 hectares of vines, a self-sufficient winery and a lovely Adega Restaurant offering delicious food and open to the public all year round.
Around 1.5 million bottles of “vegan” wine are produced by the winery annually and Mário strives to keep the operation as green as commercially viable. Using only borehole water which is “recycled” after use and carefully-sourced pest and mildew treatments, production is a challenge despite the winery’s unique microclimate. Words such as “ambitious” and “vision” come to mind in connection with the project.
Sixty percent of Ribafreixo’s planting consists of white grape varieties including Chenin Blanc, the only such planting of this grape in Portugal.
The 50 participants on the trip were given a tour of the winery where the harvest had only been completed recently. Following this, the group tasted the Pato Frio Cashmere Rosé wine, a single varietal Collections Verdelho 2021 and the award-winning Gáudio Reserva Red 2017.
Following a further tasting of both rosé and white Espumante Brut, lunch was served in the beautiful restaurant with magnificent, panoramic views. A selection of locally-sourced tapas (smoked chorizo, Serpa cheese and a mushroom salad) preceded grilled ‘Lombinhos de Porco Preto’ (black pork tenderloin) in a butter garlic sauce with a finale of ‘Gelado de Delícia de Figo’ (fig ice cream).
The meal was accompanied by the signature white wine of which Mário is justifiably proud, the Herdade do Moinho Branco Antão Vaz 2018 and a Gáudio Clássico Red 2015. A glass of the fortified Gáudio Licoroso accompanied the dessert.
Mário is a man of serious passion about his wine, his project and its production, and this shines through with his infectious enthusiasm.
It was a very happy, wine-laden group that returned to the Algarve.
By Gaynor Stapleton