Scorching summers see temperatures reaching over 100 degrees, leading to a slower pace of life and honorable traditions. The locals cling to their rich heritage handed down from generation to generation — timeless traditions such weaving hand-made carpets and embroidery, and the century-old work of harvesting cork from trees using only a hammer. Nearly 60% of the world’s cork production comes from Portuguese forests, mostly from the Alentejo.
“Rural and rustic yet with style and substance, the Alentejo’s warm and generous reds are much like its people,” writes Sarah Ahmed, a consultant on Portuguese wines who is known as the “The Wine Detective” at Decanter.
The region has its own DOP (Denominaciones de Origen Protegidas), similar to the French appellations. The wine is regulated to standards in quality and in accordance with specific laws of the European Union.
Despite its relatively small size, Portugal encompasses a wide range of climates. The portfolio of grape varieties, many indigenous to Portugal’s numerous microclimates and soil types counts to 250.
Alentejo consumes more than 50,000 acres of vineyard space, larger in acreage than the Napa Valley, at near 45,000 acres. With more than 3,000 hours of sunshine annually, the climate is similar to the mainland of Greece.
In the past 20 years, the Alentejo has nearly quadrupled its wine production.