Is there wine tourism in Beira Interior? Yes, there is! It is not well known but that is what makes it so special
When we talk about the Beira Interior’s wine region, we are thinking about cities and towns like Covilhã, Manteigas, Guarda, among others. To make the most of the dazzling landscape, most of the wine tourism happens within the Serra da Estrela Natural Park or its vicinity.
Such is the case of Quinta da Vargem, belonging to the Almeida Garrett family, who produces a wine that carries the same name. The descendants of the famous poet and playwirght Almeida Garrett, make wine mainly from the Chardonnay grapes – brought over by the family from France to Portugal – and have developed such a unique sparkling wine, so elegant and palatable, that it was once mistaken for champagne in an international champagne competition.
Quinta da Vargem was inherited, made over and turned into a wine tourism estate open to the general public. As well as accommodation in its 9 lovely bedrooms and the open use of the pool, there are wine tasting sessions, mushrooms and red berries harvest trips, walks in the wild and other activities.
A little closer to Guarda, the president of Beira Interior’s Committee for Wine making makes wine in Quinta dos Termos. In nearly 300 acres (120 hectares) of vineyard, there are two special grapes: Fonte Cal, an almost extinct kind, recovered and nurtured here at the estate, and Rufete, named poor people’s bread, which, thanks to its generous flavour and business yeld, was traditionally served as fare in the old days. You will not find accommodation here, but there is a wide range of activities related to the vineyard and wine making on offer.
I stayed at Casa das Penhas Douradas overnight… You know those places whose modest and comfortable features make you feel right at home? This is one of those places! About 1500 metres high up, you will find a little house with 18 bedrooms, SPA e indoor swimming pool and several hidden nooks and rooms with fireplaces and books, which will make you forget about the cold and dreary winds outside! I couldn’t see the beautiful property covered by a blanket of snow so going back is a must 🙂
From there down to Manteigas, I highly recommend a trip to the Burel Factory. Magical place! With enormous machines from the 20s, sheep wool is turned into colourful spreads and blankets, coats, shoes and backpacks, sofas and other decorative items. I felt like a child in a candy shop! Beyond making beautiful pieces, working the burel is an exclusive craft in Portugal.
To sum up, among vineyards, streams and rocks, sheep and donkeys, there is indeed a lot to see in Beira Interior!