It may still be prime beach season, but for wine enthusiasts, the most exciting time of the year is just around the corner. (In fact, some hot-climate wineries are already picking grapes.) From the Algarve to the Douro Valley, many top wineries are planning special events, dinners and promotions to celebrate the harvest. And now that Portugal is fully embracing wine tourism, the offerings are better than ever. Here’s where to eat well, drink well, learn more about wine and watch the magic happen.
Morgado do Quintão
Last year, the owner of this boutique winery and estate (with lovely guest houses) put together a party—called Harfeast, a celebration of “land, meaning and beauty”—with great food and wine, two bands and a pig on a spit. This year, he’s kicking it up a notch with CAMP, a three-day homage not only to wine and food but also to people, thought and creativity. During the second weekend of October, musicians Carminho, Bruno Pernadas and Mário Laginha will perform, and there will be talks (in English) with makers, designers and cultural thought leaders. (Despite the name, you can’t actually camp or stay over, though future editions may involve glamping.) In the meantime, the estate is also hosting a sunset harvest dinner on August 25 in collaboration with the Porto restaurant Rosa et Al Townhouse—a way to celebrate the differences in Portugal while gathering dozens of people at a long table in a newly planted vineyard to share a five-course meal with three or four wines, including the estate’s very first sparkling. Book both online.
For a full month, starting August 20, this family-owned winery is opening its estate, Herdade de São Miguel, to wine lovers who want an up-close view of the harvest and Alentejo traditions. The roughly five-hour program includes a guided walk through the vineyards; a session with a winemaker to learn about different grape varieties and make a sensory analysis of the berries, seeds and stalks; a turn at actually cutting the bunches of grapes; a bit of foot treading; a tasting of the musts; and a tasting of the current wines; and an optional lunch of typical dishes from the region. Book at least 72 in advance with an email.
Torre de Palma
One of the best harvest experiences—especially for international visitors—is this one at this estate that has Roman roots. The harvest programs, which last until October, include time for guests to spend working in the vineyards, helping with the harvest, having educational sessions in the cellar and tasting the latest releases of the estate’s wines. The reward after the work is a lunch or a dinner at the hotel’s Palma restaurant, overseen by a chef who has a Michelin star on his resume. Reserve via email.
To take part in the harvest at this gorgeous winery means getting up early and wearing a headlamp—the grapes must be harvested without sun to retain maximum freshness (it’s also more comfortable for the workers during an Alentejo August). After sunrise there’s a break for breakfast, followed by (watching) the work in the winery: sorting, remounting and laboratory analysis. It’s followed by a tasting of fermenting musts and five wines from previous harvests, and a lunch with the whole winemaking team in the courtyard beneath the magnificent medieval tower on the property. Aside from the harvest program, the winemaker for a day program gives guests a shot—armed with pipets, funnels and expert advice—at making their own blends. Book online.
Herdade da Malhadinha Nova
A producer of outstanding wines and one of the most soulful and quietly luxurious hotels in Portugal, this southern Alentejo estate doesn’t cut any corners when it comes to harvest experiences. There are three levels on offer until September 17: The two-night Harvest Escape includes accommodation in one of the hotel’s suites or houses and a gourmet lunch—the consulting chef has a Michelin star—in a vineyard, amid all the action. The three-night Harvest Experience has all of that, plus a hot air ballon ride, for a birds-eye view of all the activity below. And the Harvest Expert starts with the same and then includes a hands-on day, also starting at 4am in the vineyards, with breaks for breakfast and lunch, followed by a wine therapy couples massage and a special dinner. Book online.
Adega José de Sousa
For one month, starting on August 20, this wine estate in Reguengos de Monsaraz—which dates from 1878—is offering a harvest program. The idea is to visit the estate and winery, join in with the workers in the fields and enjoy a wine tasting or an optional lunch that’s paired with top wines from producer José de Sousa. Book via email.
Tapada de Coelheiros
For the first time ever, this boutique winery has created a program that’s available to the public, for one week, September 3-10. Each day’s special event includes lunch with a wine tasting and a tour of the property. On the first and final days, guests can join in the harvest activities—early in the morning, of course—and then have a more relaxed look at the property. Reserve via email.
Quinta de Lemos
Throughout the month of September, this winery is offering a program for visitors who want to learn about the art of grape picking and the experiences of the harvest, such as pressing the grapes. It’s completed with a guided visit and wine tasting with snacks. Although it’s not part of the two-hour program, sticking around for lunch or dinner in the Michelin-starred Mesa de Lemos restaurant is a good idea. Book via email at least 48 hours in advance.
The harvest experience here includes the usual guided visit to the winery and vineyards, a turn with the scissors and a tasting of one of the winery’s signature wines, in this case, the white Villae blend. It also includes a lunch basket—to be enjoyed in the shade of the balcony overlooking the vines—with traditional foods like codfish cakes and sandwiches with Serra cheese and salpição (a typical chicken salad). Book via email.
Quinta Nova de Nossa Senhora do Carmo
The program here—held September 9, 10, 13 and 14—includes harvesting the grapes as usual, but with a few special twists. It includes a guided visit to the estate’s excellent Fernanda Ramos Amorim Wine Museum Centre, showcasing the owners’ fascinating collection of tools, clothing and implements used in port wine production during the 19th and 20th centuries. (Watch the videos of loading the wine onto the ships and their dangerous journey down a river that used to be considerably more feisty.) There’s also a tasting of the “first wine” (freshly squeezed fruit), followed by a tasting of bottled wines and a harvest lunch with traditional entertainment. Book online.
Quinta de Ventozelo
On September 24, this winery is offering hotel guests and outside visitors an all-day event that begins with a guided tour of the hilly vineyards and a chance at harvesting the grapes—after a snack of a codfish ball, onion soup and a glass of wine—and then moves on to a full-on lunch with wine pairings. (The restaurant is excellent, and the menu includes sardines in escabeche, ox heart tomato salad, rancho (a hearty multi-meat stew), and cheese with port. The conclusion is a boat trip along the Douro River. Reserve via email.
It’s way off the beaten path, but the some of best wines in Portugal are produced in this volcanic archipelago that’s in the middle of nowhere in the Atlantic Ocean. The wines—especially on the youngest island, Pico—have a delightful salinity along with their minerality. The Picowines cooperative has partnered with a local communications agency for a pop-up experience under the Art of Tasting Portugal umbrella. On September 3, wine fans (who have signed up in advance) will get to visit some of the most scenic spots on the island, work in the vineyards, and enjoy a picnic lunch among the vines. Book via email.