Herdade dos Grous, an Alentejo getaway
To produce the wine both the latest technologies and age old methods work in harmony
Little more than an hour’s journey from the Algarve, Herdade dos Grous is a haven of rustic luxury. Part of the Vila Vita brand, this working country estate and award winning winery is perfect for a day away, a weekend break or a family holiday. Set over 700 hectares of beautiful Alentejo countryside, Herdade dos Grous is complete with its own lake, winery, olive groves, restaurant and accommodation.
Intrinsic to the Algarve is the huge horizon that is the ocean. In the Alentejo the ocean is replaced by immense undulating plains, speckled with cork and olive trees, that stretch for miles wherever you look. This province, neighbor to the Algarve, is a world apart from the fast paced beach resorts of its southern cousin and exudes a different yet alluring charm.
Herdade dos Grous ( Crane Estate), just 17kms from Beja, is a working estate, rearing livestock, breeding horses and growing a range of organic produce that graces the tables of restaurants such as the 2 Michelin star Ocean Restaurant at Vila Vita Parc. The winery and vineyards are one of the main attractions at Herdade dos Grous. Covering 70 hectares of the estate, the vines stretch across the gentle slopes so characteristic of the Alentejo. In keeping with the ethos of sustainability here, organic farming techniques are integrated into the wine production, as well as the use of typical Alentejo grape varieties such as Antão Vaz or Aragonês, alongside international varieties. To produce the wines, both the latest technologies and age old methods work in harmony, with the grapes being selected by hand at the sorting table, while in the lab there are constant tests and sample calibrations. The wine is stored in barrels or bottles in the temperature controlled cellar where, when the temperature rises in the summer, the cellar is cooled by a cascade of water that flows down the schist walls.
Guided tours of the winery and wine tasting are available with explanations of each step of the process involved in creating the award winning wines that are available in 27 countries. At Herdade dos Grous, enologist Luis Duarte, twice awarded Winemaker of the Year, has crafted some exceptional wines such as the Herdade dos Grous Barricas 23 and the Herdade dos Grous Moon Harvested.
But it’s not just about wine at Herdade dos Grous. Another nectar that has been enjoyed for thousands of years and has in recent times been elevated from it’s humble status to that of a gourmet product is olive oil. At Herdade dos Grous the tortured shapes of the olive trees that line the main avenue (and are exceptionally beautiful) belie the deliciousness of the oil produced. For a simple yet gourmet product, where the essence of the ingredients are allowed to shine, it is hard to better Tiborna –just cooked, still warm, Alentejo bread soaked in quality olive oil, sprinkled with salt. This is just one of the options on the menu at Herdade dos Grous Restaurant and it is one you do not want to miss. Almost all the food served at the restaurant comes from the organic gardens and orchards and from the animals raised on the estate. Raised outdoors and with the best pastures and fodder, the meat produced at Herdade dos Grous is of amazing quality. No culinary sleight of hand is required to enhance the flavours – the food tastes just as it was meant to.
At Herdade dos Grous there are three main buildings set across the estate. The restaurant, reception and winery are located by the estate entrance, with beautiful views across the vineyards and lake from the restaurant terrace. Further along the lake, in the two remaining buildings, there is a selection of adjoined cottage accommodation and swimming pools that overlook the lake and lawns. To get around the estate you can chose your preferred mode of transport – car, bike, canoe, pedalo, or on foot. You can explore the trails and paths, visit the goats and black pigs as the snuffle for food, admire the horses in their paddocks, watch the antics of the ostriches and maybe even spot some of the deer that wander the estate. The lake, not exactly a pond at 80 hectares, is calm and current free and so is ideal for canoeing and even a spot of fishing. Birdlife is plentiful and varied at Herdade dos Grous. Aside from the cranes from which it takes its name, there are many interesting species to be seen here, particularly during the autumn migratory period.
One of the very best things at Herdade dos Grous is the sense of freedom that comes not only from the physical space but also from the liberty to do as you wish. You can just pick up a bike from the stalls by reception and ride around the lake to your accommodation and if you don’t want to ride back, don’t. Just park your bike and worry no more about it. Prefer to travel by canoe? Then paddle from one side of the lake to the other, simply tying up the canoe at the pontoon when you arrive. Want to walk across the grass rather than the path? Go for it, there are no Keep off the Grass signs here.
At Herdade dos Grous the concept of luxury is different from the norm. Here luxury is the vast number of stars visible in the clear night sky. It is in the unfettered yet true flavours of the food and in the smile of welcome as you arrive. It’s the smell of the land after a rain shower and the freedom to roam the estate at will, by land or water. It’s the sound of birdsong and the buzz of insects and the scent of relaxation that seems to permeate the very air. Our busy, urban lives too often take us away from these riches. At Herdade dos Grous you can enjoy them at will.
Herdade dos Grous accommodation is made up of elegantly rustic self-catering suites equipped with minibar, air conditioning, flat-screen satellite TV, wi-fi and telephone as well as fireplace, lounge area and beautiful views over the estate.
Guided Tours and wine tasting available and wine and other products can be purchased the the Herdade dos Grous shop onsite.
Herdades dos Grous Restaurant is open for dinner every day and open for lunch at the weekend.
Activities available at Herdade dos Grous include horse-riding, bird-watching, walking, biking, canoeing, swimming.
T: +351 284 960 000