If you’re looking to visit a winery in Portugal we have a whole new region we’d like to introduce you to. Portugal’s beautiful central region stretches between the white sandy beaches of the Atlantic Coast in the west to the Spanish border in the east. And from the green north to the Lisbon area in the south. Awaiting your discovery are the wine regions found in Dão, Beira Interior, Tagus and Bairrada. While each region in the Center of Portugal is relatively small, there is so much diversity within them; both in terms of the wine varieties and the methods used to produce them. From wine tastings and vineyard tours, to enjoying the company of the locals, delightful surprises are around every corner in this wine region.
The Center of Portugal is not only memorable for its delicious wine; the diverse gastronomy each region offers is truly delightful. The cuisine on offer will satisfy every tastebud from the beloved meats and cheeses to the more surprising rose and pumpkin jams. Whilst visiting this beautiful region we learned that certain central Portuguese wines cannot be drunk without food, as it is used specifically for gastronomic purposes, and that each sub-region has its signature sweet treat but they are all variations made with the same ingredients of eggs, flour, and sugar!
Visit Dão wine region and its wineries
We started our discovery of the Center of Portugal in the famous Dão region and it’s a great place for visitors to start their wine tour. The Caramulo, Buçaco, and Estrela Mountains shield the 20,000 hectares of vineyards that make up this wine region. It gets its name from the Dão River, which is where most of the vineyards in the area are situated. It has produced exceptional wines since 1908, and is also situated just south of its famous neighbour; the Douro Valley.
Traditional cuisine produced on each estate in this region is remarkable, and the stories behind their dishes will give you a taste of the true authenticity of the region and the importance family plays in the creation of its food. Some memorable examples included the recipes at the De Raiz estate, inspired by the ancient recipe book that belonged to the owners’ grandmother. They believe that their food is ‘a tribute to the past with eyes on the future’, as they recount memories of their grandmothers getting up early in the mornings to cook and serve. It is the essence of family that breathes into the wine and gastronomic identity in the Center of Portugal, and creates an authenticity that cannot be recreated any other way; each wine reflects the estates’ family beliefs and values.
The white wine in De Raiz has an expressive acidity that is perfect for bread and tapenade. It is well balanced and fresh with minimal complexity but balanced with white flowers and is minerally dry. The atmosphere of this estate is warm and cosy, with a perfect wooden décor of golden brown and wooden beams to complement the style of the food and wine served. Their restaurant exudes warmth and happiness, bursting with the essence of family. The red wine, the smooth signature bestseller, Chão de Quinta, has great stretch to it and is well-rounded. With this they mix two different types of grapes to get more complexity but try not to exceed the oak; they believe in complexity because they believe in experience, and maintaining a sense of freshness while ensuring the grape’s unique flavour does not become lost in the mix. The flavour becomes fruitier once it breathes more, with a jammier taste and smoother texture.
We recommend visiting the stunning gardens in the Dão Region, which are beautiful, green oases under the heat of the sun. Every city garden changes its flowers according to the season in which they grow, and are transported from the places where they are cultivated directly to that garden. The Santar Garden Village is not to be missed. Visitors will be delighted by the labyrinths of hedge rows and flowers before discovering the beauty of the surrounding vineyards, perhaps even more so by the fact that the family owners made the decision to invest in a ground-breaking project in Portugal to preserve both its material and history in 2013.
The produce from their vegetable garden is used within the hotel and they use their own olive oil. On the 1st May each year they provide an open tour for the people of the village and offer pieces of their land to them so they can plant whatever they’d like to: that plot of land is theirs in the garden. This shows the sense of community the Garden contributes to the village.
You’ll also find the Caminhos Cruzados winery in the Dão Region, a modern, audacious winery, which was established in 2017 and has the ability to produce 400,000 litres of wine. The “Caminhos Cruzados” initiative gave the Dão Region a modern, youthful, and fresh appearance, earning it the nickname “The New Dão”. The rosé wine here is delightful, and the CROSSPATHS Colheita Rosé | D.O.P. 2020 is one to try. This wine has a light tropical and minerality undertone, a pale salmon colour, and a red fruit scent. The palate is vibrant and flavourful, with outstanding volume and balanced acidity, and a beautiful, lingering finish.
Next we have the Chão de São Francisco winery, a beautiful Center of Portugal winery with extensive vineyards complete with old stone buildings and hidden gardens. Its approximately 8 hectares of vineyard underwent a comprehensive renovation in 1996, adding additional Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, and Jaen varieties. “The Chão de São Francisco Project”, was launched in the 1990s, a family initiative with the goal of producing and selling DOC wines of renowned quality and to promote the delicious wines that the Center of Portugal region has to offer. This reflects the passion the family has for everyone to enjoy an authentic local wine experience. Visit Chão de São Francisco to meet a family whose attitude and approach to wine evidences that family is at the heart of the Center of Portugal’s wine production.
Visit Beira Interior wine region and its wineries
Next on your Center of Portugal wine tour itinerary is the Beira Interior region, with its 16,000 hectares and close location to the Spanish border, between the Douro and Tagus rivers. Castelo Rodrigo, Pinhel, and Cova de Beira are the three subregions that make up this area. Since November 2nd, 1999, the Beira Interior has had Denomination of Controlled Origin.
Casas do Côro
The breathtaking Casas do Côro in the Estrela Mountain, is a must-see. The complex, made up of 2 vineyards of 40 hectares, in addition to a range of other facilities including an eco-friendly spa and outdoor pool with a bar, has a new project to add an organic garden to their vineyards where guests can go to promote a sense of family friendliness. There is also the Quinta dos Termos in the same region where the wines are fruitier with an aromatic focus, and 85% of the grapes are regional. While the land of the vineyard is flat, it includes an experimental plot in the middle of the estate on a slope where the soil is more fertile at the bottom. They work at a low production reach of 5/6% instead of 30/40% which is the usual. As their plant variety is sensitive to sunburn, they plant the ones that do not need sun on the slope side. This reflects their knowledge of their variety and the care they have towards their production process.
They are also honey producers with bees kept nearby the vineyards. When they do the harvest, they pick everything by hand (18-20 kilos) which is transported in boxes, and fermentation is made with no controlled temperature. They then sell the skins of the grapes to companies that make spirits to ensure that nothing is wasted.
We recommend you immerse yourself in the picturesque vineyards of Quinta dos Termos and meet wine producers whose passion and enthusiasm for what they do is captivating.
If you’re looking for an incredible sunset, Adega 23 is the place to go to, with a terrace that looks directly over the vineyard into the sunset. Made of cork walls, this former warehouse has been converted into a beautiful winery with 9 grape varieties grown on the estate. Visitors can enjoy picnics in the vineyards; winery tours; wine tastings and wine workshops. You’ll love exploring the breathtaking beauty of the Adega 23 vineyard and making the most of this enchanting winery on your trip down the highway 23.
Visit the Tagus wine region and its wineries
A wine tour of the Center of Portugal is not complete without a visit to the Tagus region. Wines in this region have won several international prizes for their consistent high-quality and their connection to the river in the Tagus valley has assumed undeniable significance across numerous eras of history. The Tagus was, and still is, a source of riches and sustenance for several local families.
The Quinta da Corô winery is a wonderful hidden gem in the Tagus region. Located near to the beautiful village of Sardoal, Quinta do Côro combines a relaxed countryside experience with the history and passion of their winemaking. Winning many awards and still using traditional grape stomping methods for their best wines, this is a wonderful experience to be enjoyed. From the wine through to the quince jam made by the owners’ grandmother, everything is done with passion.
Visit the Bairrada wine region and its wineries
The Bairrada wine region will be your final destination, the region that stretches from the Caramulo and Buçaco mountains to the coast is found in the Beira Litoral, halfway between Gueda and Coimbra. It has a warm climate that is impacted by the ocean’s proximity and the Baga wine grape predominates in the region’s 10,000 hectares. Bairrada experiences significant thermal amplitude when the grapes are ripening; occasionally, the temperature differential exceeds 20°C. This keeps the grapes’ acidity intact, resulting in fresh wines. You can also find a delicious array of sparkling wines which have been produced here since 1890.
Caves de S.João
Caves de S.João is a great winery to visit in the Bairrada region and is the oldest in the region. Their white wine is made with a red grape, Baga, which they are now using for rosé and sparkling wine. The fermentation is finished in oak barrels to keep complexity. They use only selective grapes, sourcing certified grapes and certifying them again.
We loved visiting the Center of Portugal and its amazing wineries and we know you will too. You can follow our itinerary and book your winery visits here. Or get in touch and we’ll organise a multi day wine tour for you across the region including hotels and transfers.