Alentejo as Portugal's prime wine region Alentejo is not only one of the largest wine regions in Portugal, but also one of the most important: the region covers one third of the country. Nevertheless, for a long time it was only known for its impressive oak forests and large grain fields.
Alentejo short and sweet
Alentejo is an important wine-growing region in Portugal. Although the history of wine in the region began with the ancient Romans, it is only in the last thirty years that wine from Alentejo has really come into fashion. The area is characterised by a warm to hot climate and its excellent terroir with rocky, calcareous soils.
The long history of Alentejo wine
Portuguese wine in ancient times
Even the Phoenicians cultivated wine in Alentejo. Later the Romans conquered the area and called it "Lusitania". They successfully applied the experience they brought with them in the field of viticulture in Alentejo and benefited from the special microclimate of the region. But after the collapse of Roman rule, viticulture in Alentejo was ignored for many centuries.
Instead, the Portuguese region became famous for growing grain. Its large wheat fields earned it numerous nicknames such as "Land of Bread" or "Breadbasket of Portugal". The large cork oak forests in Alentejo also became popular. More than half of the world's cork production comes from Portugal, with Alentejo accounting for a large share.
The nineties: High quality wine from Alentejo
In the eighties, viticulture finally picked up again: wine from Alentejo came into fashion. This was probably also due to Portugal's accession to the EU in 1986, which finally made it possible to make investments in the wineries that would have been needed long ago. The winegrowers could now benefit from modern technologies.
Until the 1990s, cooperatives were in charge of wine production in Alentejo. They produced mostly undemanding and simply structured wines for domestic consumption. It was comparatively late that the great potential of Alentejo for top-quality viticulture was fully understood. But success came quickly: More and more experienced winegrowers settled in the region and put their visions into practice.
What wine you can expect from Alentejo
Excellent terroir and warm climate
Due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, Alentejo benefits from a warm, dry climate. A lot of sunshine and little rainfall have a positive effect on the ripeness of the grapes. There is no frost here - but instead summer temperatures of up to forty degrees.
The vines for Alentejo wine thrive on rocky soils of granite and slate at medium altitudes of about 200 metres. The mixture with clay and lime provides excellent nutrition and moisture. The granite part serves as a heat accumulator during this process. In the peripheral areas the soils are somewhat deeper than in the centre.
DOC areas and regional wines
In 1989 the Alentejo DOC was divided into eight sub-areas, most of which are located in the centre of the region. The aim was to regulate viticulture more strictly and to take better account of the different microclimates.
Other wines often bear the designation "Vinho Regional Alentejano" because their grapes do not come entirely from the DOC areas. In addition, the Vinho Regional regulations give wine growers more leeway: for example, more international grape varieties are allowed.
The special wine style of the region
Because of the high temperatures, which can climb up to 40 degrees in summer, Alentejo has some challenges. Artificial irrigation is essential here, modern cellar technology is of the utmost importance. The grapes reach their peak of ripeness comparatively early. Therefore, the grape harvest usually takes place as early as mid-August.
An important winery that represents the special features of the region is Monte da Ravasqueira in the municipality of Arraiolos. This family business has been producing high-quality wines for several generations. Particular attention has been paid to the technical equipment of the wineries, in which considerable investments have been made. A large selection of wines from the Monte da Ravasqueira estate can be found at VINELLO, among others.
Interesting facts about the Alentejo wine region
Where is Alentejo?
Alentejo is a large area that covers one third of the whole state of Portugal. It is bordered by Lisbon, the Spanish border and the Atlantic Ocean. Most of the wine growing is confined to the north and north-east of the region.
What types of grapes are used to make wine in Alentejo?
The grape varieties are mostly red in Alentejo, if only because of the climatic conditions. Some examples are Aragonez, Alfrocheiro, Arinto, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan. White wine is made from Antão Vaz, Chardonnay, Diagalves, Roupeiro and Perrum.
How popular is wine from Alentejo?
In recent years, the strong, fruity red wines and the soft white wines from Alentejo have steadily gained in popularity. In Lisbon restaurants they are now on many wine lists. But Alentejo wine is also popular at tastings, as it reliably reflects the character of Portuguese wine.
Discover wines from Alentejo online at VINELLO
Enjoy top wines from the Alentejo at reasonable prices from our online shop. At VINELLO you will find a representative selection of the winegrowers and wineries from the Alentejo wine region. With us you shop safely and can look forward to a fast delivery of your order. We also offer you a variety of payment options from which you can choose your preferred method of payment.
Another advantage with VINELLO is that our sommeliers are available by telephone for detailed advice to introduce you to the world of Alentejo wines. This will make it easier and quicker for you to find your favourites, whether for a special occasion, an evening with friends or for your own private enjoyment.