January 30, 2011
Our second day of the tour of Vinho Verde started at Paco de Calheiros. The sun was bright, the breeze gentle and filled with perfume of Camelias from the largest Camellia tree we have ever seen. The beautifully antique appointed manor house and breathtaking view of the valley, was intensified by the singing of mass that echoed through the valley. This is an estate that has been cared for with love, passion, and romance.
Quinta do Ameal offers a different perspective of Vinho Verde. Traditional arbors of grapes and wisteria outlined the property. Beautifully manicured vineyards challenged by abundant rainfall produce organic wines requiring meticulous effort which we appreciate.
In Afros Winery the philosophy is holistic and homeopathic. Wines are made with minimal human intervention compatible with nature. Sheep control the grasses of the vineyard; a spring feeds the vineyard irrigation, and homeopathic plants form a bond between wine and nature.
Quinta de Santa Maria utilizes beautiful arbors in every walking path creating a bond between travel and the vine. The vines are exquisitely manicured and the grapes professionally vinified. This winery makes their wines very accessible in a well-appointed guest center.
Vinho Verde possesses the perfect locavare tour. Other wine regions are becoming diluted and commercialized but Portugal is the real thing. Each place we visited expresses authentic passion for the grapes they grow, the style of wine they make, and provides outstanding hospitality that made us feel part of their traditions.
The perfect ending of the day was a grand finale of wine, food, and hospitality surrounded by grand vats of liquid history. Ruby, Tawny, and so many wonderful vintages in one place created a special time in Sandeman’s Port Lodge. A delightful dinner of apples and Roquefort cheese pastry, succulent salt crusted Sea Bass, and rich chocolate mousse with mixed berries all served with a beautiful selection of Portuguese wines was made even more special hosted by George Sandeman himself.