Just up the road from Cascais and Lisbon, the oldest operating demarcated wine collective in Europe resides in Colares. We’ve been through (mostly en route elsewhere) Colares many times. The beaches of the Sintra Natural Park surround it, the village has a great farmer’s market on weekends and there’s a great little pizza spot (Roulote da Gigi) next to the farmer’s market where they serve thin crust pizzas at the picnic tables behind.
Lisbon’s wine region is less renowned than the Douro and Alentejo regions but the wines produced here are quite good. This summer, we stayed near Palmela and explored the wine region near Setúbal. Last weekend, we visited the Colares Wine Collective.
Wine has been made in this area since the 12th century and the Ramisco grape variety (which we tried) dates back to the 13th century. The Collective itself dates back to 1931 and, today, 90% of the area’s winegrowers are part of the Collective.
After a brief, self guided tour of its barrel hall we tasted the unique Colares wines. First, we tried the super dry Malvasia white, followed by the heavy Ramisco (good with a meat dinner or heavy stew) and capped with the lighter Chao Rijo red (more like a normal Portuguese table wine). When the philoxera infestation devastated many wine regions of Portugal in the late 19th century, the bugs could not survive in Colares’ sandy soil and its vineyards were spared. This area was once covered in vineyards but with soil which is sandy and tough and work and weather which makes wine production difficult, many of those vineyards have given way to real estate expansion and tourism.
The Sintra Natural Park, where Colares is, has a lot to explore, from the Pena Palace Park in Sintra proper (not to mention the town of Sintra itself), the beaches of the natural park, Ericeira just up the coast, one our favorite coastal towns Azenhas do Mar, and more, Colares and its wine collective is just another reason to visit this area.