Perhaps you’ve come to the Algarve for sun, sea, sand and stunning views. We don’t blame you, as the Algarve is known for its scenic sights and beautiful beaches. Almost 2.73 million people visit the Algarve annually to holiday among 125 miles of coastline, sight-see in picturesque towns, and sample delectable Portuguese cuisine.
But what a lot of these visitors don’t know is the Algarve is home to a thriving wine industry. With 300 days of sunshine a year, fertile soil, and large flat landscapes, it’s no surprise the Algarve produces some of Portugal’s favourite wines.
If you’re visiting the Algarve, wine tasting is the best way to experience everything the region has to offer. From history and traditions to culture, to gastronomy, wine plays a central role in the Algarve’s identity. This is why wine tasting offers a chance to immerse yourself in everything that makes this region great.
So, you want to sample some wines during your trip to the Algarve, but don’t quite know where to start? Not to worry, as here at Algarving Tours, we know what makes wine tasting in the Algarve special. Our expert tour guides have compiled this ultimate guide to make your day enjoyable and memorable. Read on to find out everything you need to know about wine tasting in the Algarve.
History of Wine Making in The Algarve
Winemaking in the Algarve has a long legacy as rich and flavourful as the wines it produces. It’s thought that winemaking was introduced to the region by Greek settlers almost 2500 years ago. That’s given locals a lot of time to perfect their techniques.
During the Roman and Medieval eras, wine became one of the region’s most popular exports. People from around the world fell in love with Algarve wines. Fortified wines were the most popular, especially in England where they were used in the production of port.
However, in the late 1800s wine-making across Europe was almost ended for good. What could cause such damage? A tiny pest known as phylloxera spread to Europe from America, eating away at grapevines and destroying entire vineyards.
Back to Business
So devastating was phylloxera that the Algarve’s wine industry did not get back on its feet until almost 100 years later. Thankfully, in the 1980s, new vineyards were planted and a combination of ancient and modern wine-making techniques (as well as pest control) was adopted. Now the Algarve boasts over 40 wineries, producing a variety of sublime wines.
Types of Wine From The Algarve
Winemakers in the Algarve work with 80 different varieties of grapes to produce a vast range of wines. No matter how discerning your tastes are, when you’re wine tasting in the Algarve, you’re sure to find something delicious.
Vineyard workers harvest the grapes by hand to preserve the vine and ensure the best flavours. However, modern technology comes into play in wine cellars, where strict quality controls are put in place to ensure each wine is superlative.
If you love reds, you’re in luck. The native Castelao, Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira and Negra Mole grapes produce rich and velvety red wines with a substantial alcohol content. But don’t think we’ve left out the white wine fans. With Crato Branco, Arinto and Malvasia Fina grapes in abundance, it’s not hard to come across gentle and smooth whites.
Many vineyards also blend their reds to create zingy rosés. But, if you want to try something different, why not opt for a sample of licorosa, a type of fortified wine unique to the Algarve? Otherwise, Moscatel is the grape of choice for fortified wine, which, after having aged for 5 days, is mixed with brandy to create a sweet and moreish final product.
Vineyard Tours in the Algarve
Without a doubt, the best way to sample everything the Algarve region has to offer is to take a wine-tasting tour across one or multiple vineyards.
Where to Visit
The Algarve is home to four DOP regions (Denominação de Origem Protegida). These are Lagos, Lagoa, Portimão, and Tavira. All wines in these DOPs must be fully grown and produced within the DOP to ensure the best quality. A visit to a vineyard in a DOP region ensures you’ll sample some of the best wines the Algarve has to offer.
In particular, Lagoa DOP also comprises Albufeira and parts of Silves. The Quinta do Francês estate is a quaint winery, hidden in the stunning hills of Odelouca River Valley. With 9 hectares of working vineyards, on your tour you can sample unique reds made from the Syrah grape variety, as well as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and rosé blends.
Or, why not pay a visit to Paxa Winery, a family-run, 30-hectare estate planted in distinctive Portuguese terroir? With a vide variety of grapes grown here, Paxa Winery is a big player in the national and international wine markets. On a tasting tour, you’ll be treated to samples of their rich reds and gentle whites, lovingly grown, harvested and produced by Joaquim Lopes and his son, Tiago.
When to Visit
The Algarve is one of the sunniest regions in Europe, with 3000 hours of sunshine annually. If you’re looking to sip stunning wines in the sunshine, you can enjoy wine tasting in the Algarve all year round. The spring and autumn seasons see cooler temperatures, great to relax and enjoy your wine tasting outdoors.
However, discerning wine connoisseurs may like to visit Algarve’s vineyards during harvest time. Usually starting at the end of July, but at its height during September, you can see the vineyard’s pickers hard at work harvesting the best grapes. Not to mention, you’ll be able to sample some of the freshest wines before they’re put on sale.
Finally, even wintertime in the Algarve offers some great wine tasting opportunities. During this season, you can learn about the pruning techniques that keep the vines producing only the highest quality grapes. Without the hustle and bustle of the summertime crowds, cellar season offers a peaceful opportunity to enjoy your glass. Plus, wine tasting tours make the perfect Christmas gift.
Getting Around The Algarve Vineyards
Many of the vineyards in the Algarve are spread out, meaning if you want to visit more than one you’ll need to hire a car and driver. However, to get the most out of your wine tasting experience, it’s recommended that you join a guided tour such as those from Algarving Tours.
By taking a guided tour on your wine tasting experience, you won’t need to worry about driving, directions, and timings. Leave all that to the experts, while you sit back and sample a variety of the Algarve’s best. A guided tour will also allow you to learn about the culture and history of your chosen vineyard and the region as a whole.
Tips for Wine Tasting in The Algarve
For a delicious day out, we’ve prepared some recommendations for your wine tasting Algarve experience.
1. Hire a Guide or Sommelier - To get the most out of wine tasting in the Algarve, hiring someone who knows their stuff is a good place to start. A guide will be able to talk you through the history and production processes at a certain vineyard, while a sommelier will choose the best wines for your palette and give you a host of insider tips.
2. Enjoy the Scenery - All of the Algarve’s vineyards and wine-making estates are surrounded by gorgeous scenery. Get your camera ready for some beautiful photos, to create memories that last a lifetime. Or simply reserve a table outdoors and sample your wine while looking out at the iconic Portuguese countryside.
3. Sample Food Pairings - Many vineyards will offer specially curated food pairings that elevate their wines. This is the perfect chance to familiarise yourself with two important parts of life in the Algarve; great food and even greater wine.
4. Bring Home a Bottle (or two) - It’s almost impossible to visit a vineyard in the Algarve without taking some vinho home for yourself, your family and your friends. With selections ‘straight from the vine’, many vineyards will also offer you a discounted price on wines purchased from their on-site markets.
Wine Tasting in the Algarve with Algarving Tours
When it comes to wine tasting in the Algarve, you can’t get better than Algarving Tours. A group of Algarvian locals with a passion for wine, we founded Algarving Tours to give other wine lovers the best tasting experience. Our tours encompass everything the Algarve has to offer, from picturesque landscapes to historic towns, and of course, the best vineyards near your hotel or villa. Immerse yourself in the Algarve’s rich culture with an all-inclusive experience, including:
Expert Guide - Our guides are locals with a love of wine, ready and waiting to share their knowledge, tips, and recommendations.
Transport - All transport from your chosen pick-up point, between the vineyards, into the historic town of Silves, and back to your chosen drop-off point is taken care of.
Guided Tour - You’ll learn about the history of wine production in the Algarve as well as specific vineyards. Remember to ask your guide any and all questions you might have.
Insurance and IVA - Algarving Tours work closely with local vineyards to ensure you’ll never have to pay any extra fees or taxes. We cover all insurance in case of any emergency.
We offer half-day wine tasting Algarve tours for visitors with a tight schedule who still want to treat themselves. Our premium tasting tours are designed for those who love wine and want to explore two vineyards with ties to local villages. Or, if you want an exclusive experience wine tasting in the Algarve, opt for our private tour for you and your loved ones.
If you have any questions, please get in contact with us here. Our team are ready and waiting to help you find the perfect wine tasting tour in the Algarve.