The Algarve is one of the most picturesque regions of Portugal, with fine sandy beaches, charming towns and glorious sunshine waiting to be enjoyed.
It’s also a popular wine-making region, which has recently started producing wines to rival even the most well-established vineyards across the country. With more wine estates, and better wines in the Algarve than ever before, the dedicated wine traveller will have plenty to savour here.
The majority of production is at the western end of the Algarve and you will find good quality estates in the areas around Lagos, Portimão, Lagoa and Albufeira.
Rui Virgínia is highly regarded for the fruity and well balanced wines he produces for his still and sparking range of wines at Quinta do Barranco Longo. In the late 1990s, the wine maker planted some vines on his family’s orange plantation near Algoz and Albufeira, and since then the results of the white, red and rosé ranges have gone from strength to strength.
Some of the reds feature blends of Aragonez and Touriga for a plum-like ripeness, while the white varieties are made from Chardonnay and Arinto for a lively citrus tone and rich flavour. These grapes are also used for creating the blush rosé which combines body, fruit and freshness for a refreshing and lingering taste. Tours and tastings are by appointment only.
Lagos is an enduringly pretty town where old meets new; with ancient architecture, rustic churches and charming squares set against sleek restaurants and bars. Add in quaint shops and beaches nearby, it has something for all the family both day and night.
You'll also find some of the best seafood restaurants here but for one with a view Restaurante O Camilo comes highly rated. Set above Camilo Beach, pre-book a table on the outdoor terrace before devouring some sumptuous ocean fare ranging from grilled sea bream to indulgent oysters. Don't forget to pair your dining experience with a crisp and chilled white wine from the local vineyard for the perfect blend of wine and dine.
In contrast to Lagos, Albufeira is packed to the brim with restaurants, bars and tourists, all looking to have an unforgettable holiday. There is a modern marina as well as the Strip where you'll find the buzzing nightlife, and the Old Town where there are plenty of restaurants to satisfy your taste buds.
For wine enthusiasts, you will be spoilt for choice here as there are so many bars to frequent, so make the most of their wine lists brimming with fabulous local varieties. Sal Rosa is a wine bar and tapas restaurant with a cosy ambience overlooking the beach in Albufeira's Old Town. Time your visit for sundown for the best views and clink your glasses to a holiday well spent.
When you're not spending time taking in the delights of the vineyards and surrounding beautiful countryside, or dining on the seafront, there are so many beaches to pick from if you want a change of scenery, and to really make the most of the glorious sunshine.
Portugal's coastlines regularly hit the top spot. Praia da Marinha is frequently named as one of the best beaches in Europe, so if you can only fit in an afternoon of beach time, make it this one. The rocks have eroded into intricate cavities and caves, making an impressive photo backdrop.
What makes the beaches of this region special are its mixture of long stretches of golden sands and pretty coves, from shallow calm waters for children to paddle to a plentiful range of water sports if you're feeling active. As far as coasts go, it's hard to top Albufeira.
At Quinta do Francês, Patrick Agostini farms eight hectares of vines in the hills of Silves, on the Odelouca River Valley, near Portimão. His dry and rounded Odelouca Rosé is a fruity hit, while the Quinta do Francês Tinto is more of a full-bodied, savoury and smoky blend of Trincadeira, Aragonês (aka Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grapes. Sample some of these in the welcoming tasting room, before joining a tour of the winery and cellar.
Another must-see estate is the Quinta dos Vales in Estômbar, Lagoa. It is an idyllic place to relax with stunning vineyards and much more in between. The grounds are also home to extraordinary art sculptures including the Dance Of The Bears. It’s a working farm too, home to Iberian black pigs, geese and even some deer so you can make a full afternoon of it here in between your wine adventures.
Pre-book a tour of the grounds and winery, and stop by the all-important tasting room to test out their excellent vine to wine produce. It’s hard to choose one, but the Marquês dos Vales Grace Vineyard Red takes some beating. This mature red with hints of a dark fruit jam and spicy notes owes to the complex blending of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Tempranillo grapes, and subsequently it is regularly voted one of the best wines in the Algarve.
In between time spent chilling out on the beach or by the pool, or teeing off on one of Portugal's world-class golf courses, a winery tour makes the perfect complement to your stay, and is a real treat for tantalising your taste buds whether you're a wine connoisseur or just curious!
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