Wine estate Herdade da Malhadinha Nova is worth a detour (and only a 45 minute drive from our Algarvian quinta, not entirely unimportant) for a lunch-and-jeep-tour. If you’re travelling from Algarve or Lisbon ignore your navigation and leave the A2 highway to enter the charming Alentejo region which is all about great herdades, wine estates, in rural farmlands. As soon as you follow the winding road to this unique place, romantic images of a Portuguese wine estate come brilliantly alive. Including a warm welcome from the sweet, old dog.
The history of Malhadinha Nova
It is only since 1998 that the owners’ – two brothers and their families – passion and commitment have transformed this long-abandoned farmland into Malhadinha Nova estate. Now these fields give life to genuine, high-quality Alentejo products. The perfect weather conditions, the well-drained soil and gentle slopes combined with carefully selected grape varieties make up for the terroir needed for great quality wines. Next to wine the Malhadinha Nova estate also produces high purity virgin olive oil. You’ll find both served in Eva Risto beach restaurant in Algarve.
Country House hotel & spa
The large farmhouse in the midst of vast fields of grape vines, is transformed into a stylish, elegant boutique hotel. With only ten rooms, a spa, swimming pool and cosy corners everywhere, the Malhadinha Nova country house is where unwinding from busy city life can be done. Withdraw in silence with an e-reader filled with the latest must read – perfect glass of red close at hand – or just stare over the endless fields. As zen as it gets.
Or choose from a range of activities, like yoga, cooking classes, horse-riding and an anti-aging break. Unfortunately we were there only for the day, so no time for any of this but high on my bucket list for our next visit is a hot air balloon flight over the Alentejo country side. Soon!
What we actually have done, besides a gourmet lunch in the Malhadinho Restaurant, is taking a jeep tour over the estate and a visit to the winery.
Jeep tour over the estate and winery visit
Now this was fun! Make sure when you reserve for lunch or dinner to also book this guided tour. After our delicious wine tasting lunch an old Landrover awaited us to explore the wine fields. We learned about variety in grapes, picking seasons and ecological maintenance. Did you know that roses planted in vineyards are an early warning for mildew since roses and grapes are equally susceptible for this disease? Apart from grapes and olives Malhadina Nova estate also raises local breeds of livestock. Free-range black pigs, DOP cattle and free-range chickens. Oh, and Lusitano horses at the recently build stud farm.
Back at the winery our guided tour led us through the process of wine making in the modern cellar. From the traditional wine treading method by feet to a high-tech steel system into numerous oak barrels. What charmed me most is the yearly contest amongst the young children of the family to design the wine label for next year. It was a good thing we had some space left in the car, guess what we took home?