Wines with Heritage Beth Hancock | Posted: 06 May 2013
Our walking holiday to Sintra takes in some magnificent palaces, as well as the Colares vineyards
Be sure to sample Colares wines while on a walking holiday to Sintra
Be sure to sample Colares wines while on a walking holiday to Sintra

By trading on their history – the grapes are grown from original European root stock – Portugal’s traditionally prestigious Colares wines are experiencing a minor renaissance.

Along the coast more or less due west of Lisbon, wine producers have long relied on the sandy soil to keep the phylloxera blight at bay, making the ungrafted Ramisco and Malvasia vines some of the oldest in Europe.

But the soil also brings with it some challenges. Easily workable and fast draining it may be, but it doesn’t store water or nutrients well. To overcome this, wine producers dig down below the sand when planting new vines. The clay soil underneath anchors the roots firmly and, more importantly, provides the nutrients that the sandy soil cannot. Over the next few years, layers of sand and manure are added, until the soil around the vine is level with the ground, at which point the vine is considered ready for production.

Related Holidays

Palaces & Pathways of Sintra

Our leisurely walking holiday in the area around Sintra passes through some of the Colares vineyards en route to ornate mansions and palaces set amid luxuriant gardens.

More about our walking holiday around Sintra >

All this is labour intensive and commercially challenging (as well as the special planting techniques, dried-reed fences are needed to protect the vines from the salty winds that blow in from the Atlantic), but the region’s wine heritage and idiosyncratic terroir mean efforts are now being made to support those wine producers that still remain. If you visit the region, be sure to sample the wines during your stay – not only are they full of character, but you will be helping to support local wine producers who are keeping their traditions alive...

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