I was born in Vila Real, in the Trás-os-Montes region of Portugal, and I’m a professional oenologist. I was working in Minho when I was given the opportunity to become a part of this project.
There are records of Herdade da Calada since 1854, but they only began to plant vineyards in the late 1970s. Because the property is located near a dam and has a small area of 16 hectares, it has its microclimate that produces wines with a higher level of acidity. That makes our wines feel fresher, even the reds, and allows them to develop and keep for longer.
We’re also one of the few companies that harvest grapes by hand at night. We pick grapes at a lower temperature which allows us to process them without the use of refrigerators. It’s also more comfortable for the harvesters, considering the heat in August rises to 40 degrees Celsius in the daytime!
Considering we have one of the most beautiful properties in Alentejo, it was only natural we started the accommodation business in 2014. At Herdade da Calada our guests will find good mood (which is essential!) and a warm welcome. Then you can take part in wine or olive oil tasting, selected activities during harvesting, hike, fish, or have a picnic at the dam. Essentially, walk and enjoy the farmstead.
We are always producing something and we are surrounded by vineyards, olive groves, cork tree fields and pastures, and cereal fields, so there is never a dull moment!
Setting the harvest schedule between 3 and 11 in the morning is a lot more comfortable for the field workers. It also allows us to avoid any unwanted fermentation of the grapes.
Our story and mission
To me, it’s one of the prettiest properties in Alentejo. The trees around the house, the orchard, and the olive grove give it a distinctive look. Throughout the property, we have several artificial lakes with 25,000 to 30,000 cubic litres of water, that we use to water the vineyards and create the picture-perfect image.
Considering all that and thinking about how many tourists look for wineries and rural places, having an accommodation unit was the natural evolution for our wine tourism business. We refurbished an old storage space where we built the bedrooms and the breakfast room. We also have a small apartment above the tasting room. We respect our guests’ privacy above all.
Descendants of the Duke of Lancaster founded the property in 1854, and some of the centennial eucalyptus trees here came all the way from Australia. The main building, although it’s been improved over the years, keeps most of the original late 19th-century design.
We’re just a few kilometres away from Évora and if you're staying there you can come to Herdade da Calada for a few days in complete silence. Besides the wine tastings, you can stroll through the property, take part in the harvest (when in season), fish in our lakes, or choose any of the many activities we have throughout the year. This year, on 25 April (a national holiday) we organised a hike for our workers’ families and our guests to raise money for a charity of our choice. We went zip lining and canoeing in the dam.
Besides wine tourism, Herdade da Calada has an olive grove with 126 hectares, 55 hectares of vineyards, and 230 hectares of pastures with 130 livestock animals. We also produce cereals to feed the animals.
To enjoy a slice of heaven
I used to come to Alentejo occasionally. I liked the region, but I never thought I’d end up moving here. I love our country, and Alentejo is a beautiful place, very special. The beauty of this silence and this landscape are a unique trait. Here we are close to Lisbon, close to the beaches, and, despite its vastness, it’s close to everything.
Alentejo wines are full-bodied, warmer, more complex. Very similar to the Douro region where I grew up.
It’s a pleasure to make these wines here. They’re all like small babies that we raise, nurture, and care for. It doesn’t matter if some are produced to be consumed immediately, others five years from now, and others ten years from now.
I adjusted perfectly. I still visit Trás-os-Montes frequently, but I couldn’t live there again. I like being here and at Herdade da Calada, specifically. Leaving this project for something else would be difficult.
At the nearby Azaruja village is the Palácio do Conde de Azarujinha where, according to local folklore, the document for D.Miguel’s surrender was written and signed during the Portuguese liberal wars, after Arraiolos and Vimieiro were taken.