11 Nov 2016 7936
Paul Bernhardt {Photographer & Writer} www.paulbernhardtphoto.com

8 Facts about Algarve Wine

Did you know that the first vines in the Algarve were planted around 2000 BC ? And that the Algarve has an excellent terroir for growing vines ? Paul Bernhardt was at the PortoBay Algarve Wine Week and can tell you a lot about the Wine of the region . ..

1. Origins of Algarve Wine

Viticulture has existed on the Iberian Peninsula for thousands of years. The Tartessians, an ancient civilization based at Tartessos in modern-day Andalusia, are believed to have been the first to plant vines in the Algarve, around 2000 BC. Later, the Phoenicians brought with them grape varieties and winemaking techniques. The Greeks, too, cultivated vineyards and furthered the advance of viticulture in Portugal, as did the Romans. 

2. Royal Approval

In the 13th century two Portuguese kings acknowledged the popularity of Algarve wine when it was mentioned in the charter of Tavira, signed in 1266 by D. Afonso III, and in the 1286 charter of Porches, which bore the seal of D. Dinis. During Portugal’s golden Age of Discovery in the 15th century wine production flourished in the Algarve and was supplied as export to the caravels departing Sagres and Lagos for distant lands and those not yet explored. 

3. Terroir

With its exceptional south-facing location, sunny climate and sandy clay soil and shale, the Algarve has an excellent terroir for growing vines. In other words, the region has all the right environmental conditions for wine production. Sheltered from chilly northerly winds by the Espinhaço de Cão, Caldeirão and Monchique hill ranges, the majority of climatic influences come from the south, including hot winds that limit the region’s rainfall, and accelerate ripening as harvest approaches. Its proximity to the ocean also makes the Algarve ideal for nurturing superior quality viniculture. 

4. Demarcation

The Algarve has been a demarcated wine region since 1980 and currently includes the Denominações de Origem Controlada (Designations of Origin, or DOC) of Lagos, Portimão, Lagoa and Tavira, where each area takes advantage of its own characteristic terroir.  In addition, Vinho Regional Algarve (Algarve Regional Wine) is produced across the region.

5. Grape Varieties

The Algarve’s vines have taken root all along the coastline, from Lagos in the west to Tavira in the east, producing a fascinating variety of red and white grapes. The most-grown of the local grapes are, red: Negra Mole, Castelão. White: Síria, Malvasia Fina and Manteúdo. Certified international and other Portuguese red grape varieties cultivated throughout the region also include: Alicante-Bouschet, Aragonez, Baga, Crato Preto, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Trincadeira, Petit Verdot and Touriga Nacional. Whites number among others: Arinto, Crato Branco, Chardonnay, Fernão Pires, Malvasia Rei, Moscatel Graúdo, Perrum, Rabo-de-Ovelha and Sauvignon. 

6. Única – Adega Cooperativa do Algarve

Founded in 1946, the Lagoa-based Algarve wine cooperative was the first to open in the region and is one of the oldest in Portugal. The winery, which is open to the public and where wine tastings are offered, is also the headquarters of Comissão Vitivinícola do Algarve. Lagoa itself was named "Wine City 2016”, a prestigious accolade awarded by the Association of Portuguese Wine Municipalities.


Address: Adega Cooperative do Algarve, Estrada Nacional 125, Lagoa. Tel: 282 342 181. Wine tastings by prior reservation. 

7. The Algarve Wines Route

If there’s one initiative that’s put the region on the Portugal wine map – and captured the imagination of tourists and connoisseurs alike – it’s the Rota dos Vinhos do Algarve.

The Algarve Wines Route features four separate, themed itineraries designed to showcase wine estates and points of interest throughout western and central Algarve. The Gil Eanes Route focuses on Lagos, the Arade Route highlights Portimão, the Moorish Route takes in Silves while Cliff’s Route, named after British singer Sir Cliff Richard, is centred on Albufeira. A comprehensive website details the region’s wine estates and the producers, and outlines tours and tastings information.  Accommodation options and selected restaurants are also listed.

8. A Guide to The Wines of the Algarve

One the best introductions to Algarve wines is the excellent guide published in English and Portuguese by the Algarve Regional Tourism Board (RTA). Compiled with the support of highly respected oenologist and sommelier Hermínio Fernandes Rebelo and all the region’s wine producers, the 208-page full colour booklet can be downloaded from the tourism board website. It’s also available from selected regional tourism offices.

The Future of Algarve Wines

Events like the PortoBay Wine Week continue to raise the profile of the region. National and international wine fairs such as the Lagoa Wine Show, Lisbon’s annual BTL travel show and the World Travel Market in London further promote the Algarve’s burgeoning wine choice. Meanwhile, the expansion of the well-established Barranco Longo winery to include a visitor centre and tasting room is eagerly anticipated. Similarly, the Quinta da Tôr vineyard will be including an accommodation option within its estate to offer a comprehensive wine tourism product. Indeed, the industry is on the up and enjoying a glass or two of locally produced wine is now an essential part of the Algarve experience. 


The PortoBay Wine Week paired several top Algarve wine producers with members of the public for a series of workshops, talks, tours and tastings that showcased the very best wines the region has to offer. Hosted at the PortoBay Falésia Hotel in Olhos de Água near Albufeira, the annual event took place during the last week in October.

Hotel guests and non-residents were regaled with lively wine and tapas evenings, engaging visits to wineries and exciting jeep safaris through the beautiful Algarve hinterland. The programme also featured a fabulous wine dinner, which combined a menu of five typical Algarve dishes with selected regional wines chosen by Master of Wine Paulo Sousa.

The invited Algarve wineries were: Quinta do Barradas, Quinta dos Vales, Adega do Cantor, Morgado da Torre, Herdade dos Pimenteis, Quinta da Tôr, Quinta da Penina, Paxá Wines, Quinta do Barranco Longo and Convento do Paraíso. Also represented was one Alentejo label, Herdade de S. Miguel.

Join us next year !! We’ll be waiting for you from 1 to 5 november . ..

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