Doves calling, bucks bugling mating calls on the hillside, birds chirping as the sun slowly rises across the rolling vineyards and fields and awakens another day. It’s the end of the harvest, but the harvest still persists in the early hours before the heat overtakes the fields. This is the morning in early September deep in Alentejo.
On our second trip to Portugal, the one where we moved into our new home (pre COVID), we stumbled upon Herdade do Sobroso. “Stumbled upon” is probably not an apt description, Melissa had spent copious hours researching places to visit in Portugal and had been accumulating lists of “wine hotels” upon which this particular Herdade sat. It was our first wine hotel. We came here on New Year’s Day in 2020 and have just returned from our third visit. And there’s a reason why we keep coming back.
We’ve now visited at the harvest in the heat of summer, at the end of spring as the crops awaken and begin to turn green and in the misty mornings and cool nights of winter. Every season different, every visit special. Granted, having visitors gives us a good reason to keep visiting places we’ve already been again, but even if we were complete loners with zero friends or visitors we’d keep coming back here.
It’s remote and sits on 1600 hectares of land, a percentage of which currently devoted to vineyards. The hotel is small with 11 rooms. When you arrive, you’re greeted with a glass of wine as the history of the property is explained. Dinners are prepared with a meat, fish or vegetarian option. Dishes like sea bass and rice or pork cheek and potatoes or octopus or duck rice or wild boar. In cold weather, a roaring fire welcomes you into the main house’s living room where you can sit and read or just enjoy the scent of the burning wood.
After dinner, exit the warmth of the house into Portugal’s dark sky country for your final sips while the constellations appear more and more vividly as your eyes adjust. Stroll to bed under the guard of Pegasus and the watchful eye of Cassiopeia.
Oh, and of course, there’s wine. Deep reds, bright whites and fruity rosés. The signature wine, Arche, is named as such by his daughter and owner in honor of her father and owner who was the architect who purchased, designed and oversaw the renovation of the property. It’s a perfect small batch little vineyard which also produces olive oil, jams and honey.
Miles of rolling vineyards are open to you for strolling. The infinity pool overlooks those same rolling hills. Activities include kayaking on the small pond on-site, horse back riding, a hot air balloon ride or a Jeep photography safari of the adjacent wild game preserve (wild sheep, deer, wild boar) on the small mountains behind, among others.
It’s far from… well… everything. About 125 miles from Lisbon. The closest small city is Évora an hour away and Beja is 45 minutes. But that is part of what makes it such a great place to visit. Quiet. Remote. Beautiful. Hospitality and homeyness within remodeled traditional farmhouse buildings surrounded by golden Alentejan hills teeming with grapes. While it’s a splurge, what’s not to like?
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