British couple develops orange wine

A British couple living in the Odelouca valley has taken prized Silves oranges and used them to create a unique fruit wine, which they hope will become a staple product of the Algarve.

Nick and Stella Downs have been working on Algarve Orange Wine for a number of years. The one lacking ingredient has always been “young Portuguese blood” to help get the project off the ground.

A veteran of fruit winemaking, Nick elaborates: “We have spent the past five years or so experimenting with turning oranges into fruit wines – researching the technical difficulties and developing a suitable method of production.

“The result is a beautiful, low-acid wine, golden-orange in color and around 18% in alcoholic volume.

“In its raw state it is suitable as an aperitif or digestive. But if diluted with one third purified still or sparkling water, it can be transformed into a very palatable table wine.”

The idea of Algarve Orange Wine came when Nick, a former producer of English Apple County wines in Devon, first arrived in Portugal and was “stunned by the sight of endless orange orchards littered with fruit left to rot on the ground”.

It wasn’t long before the resourceful octogenarian began experimenting.

Stymied early on by Portugal’s sea of rules and regulations, the pair still managed to sound out business partners, get the wine approved by importers in the UK, Dubai and India, and finally get together a “professional team” so that going commercial is now just around the corner.

The plan involves setting up a tourist attraction selling their wine.

The team includes local growers and two young Portuguese graduates with degrees in Food Science, Biology and Environmental Studies.

Nick and Stella have been adamant since the start that this project should stay and develop within the local Silves economy. They would shudder to see it exploited into a mass-produced, low-quality product.
Said Nick: “I think more and more people will realize that ‘small is beautiful’ and, as such, the best way of bringing employment to rural areas.”

Thus, the last ‘magic’ ingredient came in the form of Silves council’s own initiative to start actively promoting the area’s deliciously unique oranges.

Slowly but surely Algarve Orange Wine is making it to glory.