Viewing the vendange

By Gaynor Stapleton

Around 50 members and friends of the Algarve Wine Society marked the opening of their autumn programme with a trip to Herdade dos Grous, near Beja, last week.

Organised by the Society’s President, Anne Green, the day’s outing gave participants the rare opportunity to witness the harvesting and first fermentation of both red and white grapes collected from the 536-hectare estate and its 73 hectares of vines.

Set in the spectacular Alentejo countryside, the Estate is dedicated to environmentally responsible wine tourism.

The party was greeted on arrival by manager Aurélio Picareta, who served a welcome glass of fresh lemonade made with lemons from the estate.

In the absence of the chief winemaker Luís Duarte, the group was entertained by one of his two assistants, New Zealander Sam Davies who, together with his partner Aveiro-born Tânia Ferreirinho, has been at Herdade dos Grous for the last four months, the couple having been recruited all the way from Australia.

Fortunate to be visiting the winery when harvesting was still in progress, we were able to see the grapes, fresh from the vineyards, being received and processed into the winery. The tour included an inspection of the vats, the bottling plant and the cellars and included a tasting of four Herdade dos Grous wines, including the interesting Moon Harvested wine, so called not because the grapes are picked by moonlight but because in order to have the grapes in peak condition they are picked at Full Moon. We also tasted their special blend, 23 Barrels, which is only produced in some years.

The cellar visit was followed by an excellent lunch; the chef had prepared an array of starters, many dressed with home grown olive oil, and this was followed with delicious porco preto (black pig meat) with figs or salmon served on a bed of asparagus, all enjoyed with a choice of Herdade dos Grous Colheita Branco and Herdade dos Grous Tinto.

After a visit to the estate shop where wine, home grown fruit jams, olive oil and produce were available, we were given a quick tour of the grounds before relaxing in the coach for a quiet snooze on our way back to the Algarve.

Herdade dos Grous is within the same ownership as the prestigious Vila Vita Hotel in Porches, and is an interesting combination of large estate offering rural tourism and a working farm producing cattle, horses, pigs, growing vines and olives.

A group of Algarve Wine Society members will be travelling to the Douro at the end of September.The Society’s next event in the Algarve will be a dinner at the Escola de Hotelaria e Turismo do Algarve (EHTA) in Faro on October 18. Wines for the evening are produced at Herdade da Maroteira in the Alentejo and we will taste from the internationally acclaimed Cem Reis and Ten Gulden ranges.

Other events include a tasting and dinner at Quinta dos Poetas on November 13 and a gala Christmas dinner at Penina on December 10.

[email protected] (Secretary Nigel Adams)