The “monte” became a family property when my grandfather bought it in 1943. Then it passed on to my father and now to all 12 of us. We’re a dozen siblings! It was mostly used as a leisure place for the family, but we also had sheep, cows, and, at some time, my father built a horse stable that was more of a passion than a profitable business.
Part of the 43 hectares of the vineyard is planted where the old orchard used to be. We did the first harvest in 2000 when my father still managed the property, and then we thought of wine tourism. My father collected horse carts, and we even hosted some harness competitions, so now we have a museum with 33 carts, all in mint condition!
For lunches, we favour local products -- our specialities are lamb, salted codfish, and dogfish (“cação”). The olives and olive oil are from Ravasqueira, the bread is from Arraiolos, and we make delicious jams with our wine. Our guests can try our meals, do a wine course, and visit the horse cart museum and the cellar. Then we partner with different businesses and can book trips to Arraiolos, to the tapestry factory, to a horse stable in a neighbouring “monte”… There are lots of activities to choose from!
My father was passionate about horses and horse carts. Besides hosting several competitions at Ravasqueira, one of our Lusitano horses teams became harness world champions in Belgium in 1996.
Our story and mission
During my childhood, we came here every weekend and on Christmas, Easter, and summer holidays. No one in the family doesn’t have a great memory of Ravasqueira. From going out with the workers to pick acorns to go fishing, picking asparagus, and horseback riding. We had a picnic almost every day. At the time, Casa da Malta, one of the current spaces we use for meals, was still working. The staff would come in the morning and place their packed lunches around the square fireplace. Then, the housekeeper made the bread and lit the fire so that the food was warm by lunchtime. We still have our family gatherings at Ravasqueira. I lived in Ravasqueira for two years, when my husband was the manager, and I enjoyed my time here. There’s always something to keep us busy. I used to make jams, slaughter pigs, and lord knows what else!
All our lunches and dinners are cooked here by Joaquina and Eugénia who’ve been working with us for many years. In the beginning, we asked chef Pedro Sommer to train the staff, and now they do everything themselves. In 2017, we served 9,000 meals at Ravasqueira, and we had 120 people for lunch in one day.
The terroir at Ravasqueira is unique, and although my father encouraged us to try a little wine since we were young, I didn’t like wine. Of all my siblings, I was the only one my father couldn’t convince. I only started to like wine recently, with Ravasqueira wine and the help of our oenologist. First, I enjoyed sweet wines, then I moved on to whites and after that, naturally, to the reds. These days I love wine, especially the younger wines, fruitier.
To visitors of Monte da Ravasqueira, our activities include strolling through the vineyards, watch the winemaking step by step, having lunch, or simply tasting the house’s wines.
The art of hosting well
Right now I would feel torn if I had to move to Ravasqueira because of my two grandchildren. But I wouldn’t mind staying for a while and neither would my husband! The family has always been very fond of this area. My grandfather bought the property because he liked coming to Alentejo to hunt, and when I was a child, we used to come here every weekend. As an adult, some of my fondest memories of Alentejo and Ravasqueira were the pig slaughters. We used to buy pigs and fatten them for the slaughter. I would come here and stay for a week. On the day of the event, I liked supervising the cuts and which sausages to make, how to season the different meats… I had lots of fun!
The area is famous for the food, with lamb and pork as the main ingredients of the most traditional dishes.
Part of this connection with Alentejo passed on to the family too. One of my sons manages a garden next door, and he’s one of our suppliers of fresh produce like coriander, salad, watercress, arugula. Local products are remarkable, and we try to use them as much as possible.
Arraiolos embroidery is definitely one of the trademarks of this region. Amongst others, we partner with some of the local makers who allow visitors to see the whole production process and have a better understanding of how our carpets are made.