Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or just a fan of a Friday evening glass of plonk, it’s hard not to enjoy a good glass of wine from time to time. Curled up by the fire with a good red, toasting a celebration with a glass of champagne, or enjoying the summer with a crisp white… is this making anyone else fancy a tipple – no, just us? Sorry, we digress (we promise we haven’t sneaked a glass under the desk…).
Anyway, the point we’re trying to make is that at Oliver’s Travels HQ we appreciate a good wine, so it’s no surprise when we’re on holiday we enjoy sampling some of the local goodies. A wine-tasting tour can be a great way to spend an afternoon, learning about the local vineyards, wines, and of course the glasses of wine at the end are a great bonus! Alternatively, selecting a local wine on the drinks menu in a rooftop bar or restaurant is great too – and if you want to keep it low-key, a bottle of wine while sitting on the outdoor terrace at your villa with an evening meal (we love an alfresco situation). Basically, we love wine – and you’re probably here reading this because you do too. Most people look to places like Tuscany or France, but we’ve got a new wine-loving country to add to your list!
We’ve decided to round up a collection of 10 of our favourite villas in Portugal that are well placed for a spot of wine-tasting. Portugal is most famous for its Port, produced in the Douro Valley region, but we also wanted to give a shout-out to their unique Vinho Verde, which translates to ‘green wine’ and originates in the northern region of Minho (where we have a great selection of villas, FYI). Vinho Verde is light, crisp and a little spritzy… great for a balmy summer evening on your holiday. In this list of villas in Portugal we’ve covered a few different regions, because surprisingly – to us, anyway – Portugal is home to 13 wine regions, from the well-known Douro Valley to the lesser-known exotic Azores islands.
So without further ado, here’s our list of top 10 villas in Portugal for wine lovers, as well as a bit of info on the regions where they’re located.
The most famous of the Portuguese wine regions, the enchanting Douro Valley with its ancient vineyards and undulating hillsides, is centred around the Douro river and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its climate is perfect for its most well-known export, the sweet, fortified liquid beauty that is Port, but the region is also doing pretty well with its blended dry reds and whites. Being a well-known wine region, there are plenty of wine tasting tours that make a full day excursion, and here are some of our fave villas in the area…
With stunning views over vineyards, countryside and olive groves, this distinctive holiday home is set in the heart of the Douro Valley, so you’re well placed for plenty of tastings! When you’ve had your tasting experience, you can bring home a bottle (or three) and soak up your surroundings while lounging by the poolside, or chilling on the terrace under the stars. What’s more, the villa offers chef cooked dinners with Douro wine and port for €35 per person.
Another villa that benefits from incredible panoramic views across the magical Douro Valley and its vineyards, which you can enjoy not only from the comfort of your sun lounger, outdoor terrace, jacuzzi or infinity pool but from inside the villa too, is Villa Cathy – a stylish hillside haven that may be hard to tear yourself away from. But if you can…
Where to visit for wine: The picturesque town of Pinhão is just a ten-minute drive from Villa Marao, and a 20-minute walk from Villa Cathy. Pinhão produces some of the best port in the world owing to its rich port heritage.
So, you may remember us mentioning up there ^ that Minho is the region that brought Vinho Verde (aka green wine) into the world, which is a crisp, light and refreshing white wine, with a slightly green tinge. Sounds weird but stay with us. We think it’s lovely – it’s a little bit bubbly, which adds to the freshness and is absolutely perfect on a hot day. Minho wine producers favour quality over quantity, which is great news for our glasses! Northern Portugal isn’t just for winos though and if you like beaches you’re in for a treat, but first, where to stay?
The grounds of this renovated 17th-Century manor house are a sight to behold – nestled in the heart of the Minho countryside, it’s a rural escape where you can really unwind, with terraces and outdoor dining overlooking manicured gardens. The stone built holiday home oozes charm and character with its original features, huge living spaces and indoor heated pool (in case the weather decides to play a trick on you!).
Where to visit for wine: Ponte de Lima, an historic and photogenic town by the Rio Lima – and also the oldest village in Portugal – is only 8km from the villa, and has ample wine tasting opportunities as its a spot enveloped in vineyard covered hillsides.
Another majestic looking 17th-Century manor house, Casa Cintia sits within 220-acres of magical forests, fields, vineyards and its own landscaped gardens. Eclectically furnished interiors give the holiday home a unique magnetism, the wine cellar needs to get a mention (this being a wine-focused blog and all), and the outdoor dining setup allows for an enchanting afternoon/evening meal looking out over the vine-covered walkways, private pool and Serra do Marão mountains. There’s a badminton court too, for those who fancy keeping active!
Where to visit for wine: Nearby village Celerico de Basto, the historic city of Braga about 45-minutes drive, or even lively Porto (with its many port cellars) is an hour away.
Where to taste: Quinta de Santa Cristina.
This ancient, traditional stone farmhouse has been upgraded and renovated while still retaining its rustic charm. Set in extensive grounds overlooking the countryside, with a handful of historic structures dotted across the gardens, as well as a private pool and outdoor dining to soak up your rural surroundings.
Where to visit for wine: The pretty coastal town of Vila Praia de Ancora is only a short drive from the villa with its collection of seafood restaurants, where you can enjoy some local wine or Caminho, a picturesque town with impressive architecture, is 10km away, and the port city of Porto is under an hours drive.
The stand-out feature of this renovated farm building has got to be the dazzling infinity pool overlooking the tranquil surroundings – vineyards, olive groves, forests and hills as far as the eye can see! It may be the exteriors that really catch your eye, but as you venture indoors you’ll find the family villa is beautifully decorated with neutral tones and pops of colour.
Where to visit for wine: This villa is very well placed for visiting numerous wine spots – Calheiros is the nearest village only 2km from the villa, Ponte de Lima is 8km, and you’ll also find the market town of Barcelos a 40-minute drive away, and the beautiful city of Viana do Castelo less than that.
Bring history to life in this restored romantic stone villa, set on the water with an original working mill and water wheel. Connected to the surrounding houses along the stream by a Roman bridge, the setting is truly picturesque. You’ll get a real taste for authentic Portuguese living here with the surrounding countryside, the quaint village vibes and no WiFi meaning you can truly get off-the-grid.
Where to visit for wine: Ponte de Lima is 9km from the villa, which is set in the heart of Estorãos village.
You may be surprised to hear that the Lisboa region of Portugal can throw its name into the hat of wine-producing wizardry. Sure, the Lisbon Coast is undoubtedly windier than further inland, but across the region you’ll find the ideal conditions for certain grapes (channeling Goldilocks – it has to be just right). Seaside vistas, rolling vineyards and craggy mountaintops – this contrast of landscapes is picture-perfect, and great as a backdrop to your wine sipping exploits. The grapes in question? Ramisco, Malvasia and Castelão to name a few, and wines are produced across the board – reds, whites and some crisp sparkling wines too. There’s tons packed into this sliver of the country, with all sorts of outdoor adventures to be had – so be sure to get stuck in when you’re not supping a glass of grape!
This uber-stylish villa is located just a little way back from the surfing hotspot of Cascais, a beachy town with sandy shores, rooftop bars, and great waves. But that’s not what we’re here for…
Where to visit for wine: Sintra is about 13km from the villa and its hills are adorned with vineyards and luscious greenery. Aside from wine-tasting, you’ll find a kaleidoscopic town backed by rugged mountains, a brightly coloured palace sitting atop the hills (Pena Palace), and plenty of walking opportunities. Cascais is also only a train ride from the bustling city of Lisbon too, with its smattering of chic wine bars for tastings.
This luxury white-washed villa is set in the charming Aldeia do Meco village, a place well-known for its seafood restaurants. A popular haunt for windsurfing, kayaking and SUP lovers, it’s an idyllic seaside retreat, but it also offers those more akin to hiking and biking a place to play – plus, the villa offers free mountain bikes for those who fancy exploring on land.
Where to visit for wine: The town of Sesimbra is 13km from the villa and is a major wine-producing region – set against the Serra da Arriba mountains, the specialty tipple is Moscatel de Setubal, which is a sweet dessert wine.
Where to taste: Quinta da Bacalhao and José Maria da Fonseca. We recommend afterwards heading to one of Setubal or Sesimbra’s seafood restaurants and wash down some delectable dishes with one of the wines on the menu.
Madeira is a tropical archipelago off the coast of Portugal – and the northwest coast of Africa – and, unsurprisingly, is where Madeira wine comes from (a fortified sweet wine). Known for its subtropical climate and volcanic scenery, it’s an underrated destination that we can’t get enough of. We could wax lyrical about Madeira and all its plus points – here’s an itinerary we cooked up – but we’re here to chat about Madeira wine; rumour has it a vintage Madeira can last a whole century unopened! When opened it can even be re-stoppered and stored for a further few months. What a party trick!
We’ve got a great collection of Madeira villas, but since we’re only supposed to be shouting out to 10 villas in Portugal in total here, we decided to bring in a villa with some serious wow-factor:
A striking villa set in the hillsides of Madeira with gorgeous views across the horizon, this holiday home stands out with its cubist architecture amongst the luscious greenery surrounding it. In a peaceful location this bright and airy holiday home allows you to feel cut off from the world in your own haven, while still being close to a local town. We love the sun terrace and sparkling infinity pool, where you can look out over the ocean and really begin to rest and recharge.
Where to visit for wine: Calheta is only 2km from the villa with its rugged scenery and sandy beach.
Where to taste: There are a lot of companies doing wine-tasting tours in Madeira, but if you’re looking for individual places to visit we’d recommend Blandy’s Wine Lodge, Vinhos Barbeito, Quinta das Vinhas and Casa do Rum.
If you’ve managed to get through this blog without pouring yourself a glass of the good stuff, then we salute you – and if this list of top villas in Portugal for wine lovers has persuaded you that this sun-baked country is the place for your next villa holiday, then head to our website to check out our Portugal collection. Chat to our concierge team if you want any help, or would like to arrange some added extras like private chef cooked meals, see if your fridge can be stocked with bottles of local vinho for your arrival, or if you’d like them to help arrange wine-tastings for you!