The love of animals is the reason behind the lifestyle change and beginning of this very special wine tourism project!
Lurdes Perfeito used to live in Sintra and devote her time to providing a new home for abandoned animals. When she realised she couldn’t fit any more in, she decided to return to her hometown, Gouveia, the place where she grew up, and take with her as many animals as possible so they would experience running free in the country.
This large dog shelter (more than 70 dogs!) slowly took shape with the plantation of the vineyards, and building of a country hotel, together with a restaurant and a small cheese making factory, which makes its own Serra da Estrela cheese.
Each suite at Madre de Água hotel holds the name of a wine grape variety and I spent the night at the beautifully scented Malvasia Fina (also known as Malvasia, Malvazia or Malmsey), a much praised kind in the Dão region. The décor is contemporary but cosy, making you easily feel at home. The best feature of the room, however, was the balcony facing the colour changing sun as it sinks behind the vineyard.
At the restaurant, every dish is prepared with local produce, once again recalling homemade cooking, but with the fine signature of the resident chef.
The breakfast table was crowded with all kinds of bread and buns, jams and such delicious homemade yoghurt that I dream of it to this day! The homemade cottage cheese also had a different flavour, the likely consequence of the happy and peaceful lifestyle sheep enjoy here.
Madre de Água wines come from a vineyard that was, several years in a row, known as the most beautiful in Dão, a title not easy to topple.
These are still young wines and were recently presented to the general public. Albeit modest and timid, they hold the potential of becoming a reference in the region in the years to come!
Personally, Madre de Água is a very well rounded wine tourism project and an excellent excuse to spend a few days in the peaceful inner countryside!