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What a Great Day in Lisbon’s Setubal Wine Region!



A Great Day in Lisbon's Setubal Wine Region

While Portugal’s Douro Valley is probably the most well-known wine region in the country, the Setubal region is increasingly popular for wine tourism because of the quality of its wines and its proximity to Lisbon, just an hour away. It’s also a very pretty area, since it’s situated on a peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean, and one has to travel over the mountain where Parque Natural da Arrabida is located to get there.  

 

The Setubal region has been producing wine for at least 2,000 years. It’s most famous for Muscatel (also known as Moscatel), a fortified dessert wine made from muscat grapes, but also produces plenty of other varietals.

 

There are several wineries open to the public. We recommend taking a tour so you don’t have to worry about the winding roads and can enjoy the views. Note that the tour descriptions can be confusing: some of the tour operators call the Setubal wine region “Southern Lisbon” or the “Setubal and Arrabida wine tour.” As we’ve said before, please research the different tour options carefully.

 

We opted to take a day trip with Yes!experiences because it provided a full day in the region. We’d also visit three very different wineries, so we’d enjoy diverse experiences and glean a better understanding of the varied wines produced.

 

We had a terrific time with our guide Nuno. And while the Yes!experiences website notes that the tour includes a few nibbles (which is not in the description on Viator), Nuno went out of his way to buy us local delicacies and gave us a bottle of wine at the end.

 

In fact, we enjoyed our tour with Nuno to this region so much that we agreed he’d be our

A Great Day in Lisbon's Setubal Wine Region

guide for our wine tour to the Alentejo region two days later, which was also booked through Yes!experiences; (we will report on that trip in an upcoming blog post).  


Our first stop was in the port town of Setubal itself to visit the Mercado do Livramento, one of the oldest and largest traditional markets in Portugal, known for its funky vendor statues and tiled walls.


We had a chance to purchase some locally made piri-piri sauce and sample the ginjinha, both of which Portugal is famous for.

 

Bacalhoa Vinhos de Portugal

 

The first winery we visited was Bacalhoa Vinhos de Portugal, which was established in 1922 and became a large company in the 1970s. 

 

A Great Day in Lisbon's Setubal Wine Region

The winery is a bit different in that many of its buildings are very modern. It also focuses on art as well as wine; its catchphrase is “Art Wine & Passion”. There’s art all over the premises.

 

We took a fascinating private tour of the buildings, including the winery’s expansive art gallery; a room displaying hundreds of Portuguese tiles, some centuries old; and a storage room for some of the Muscatel that serenaded the wine with Gregorian chants, which supposedly assists in the aging process.

 

We then were escorted to the tasting room for a private tasting. We sampled:

 

Bacalhoa Chardonnay 😊😊

Palacio da Bacalhoa, a red blend not produced every year 😊😊

Moscatel Roxo de Setubal 2006 😊😊


Our next stop was to a tiny artisan tile-making workshop called Azulejos de Azeitao to see how Portuguese tiles are traditionally made, which was very interesting. This was an added bonus to our great day in the Setubal wine region. Some wine tours skip this type of visit or will drop a winery or two instead to include it.

A Great Day in Lisbon's Setubal Wine Region

We then had lunch nearby in Casa de Tortas, a small local place established in 1910 that specializes in grilled food and doesn’t have a website. While it has mixed reviews on Trip Advisor, we greatly enjoyed the local Azeitao cheese, grilled squid and pork, and local wine.

A Great Day in Lisbon's Setubal Wine Region
Azeitao Cheese

Jose Maria da Fonseca

 

For a different winery experience, we went to Jose Maria da Fonseca, a more traditional family-owned winery founded in 1834 and currently being operated by the seventh generation of the family.


It originally specialized in Muscatel but has over the years branched out to produce other wines. It is the only winery that makes purple Muscatel, a grape varietal nearing extinction. It also ages its Muscatel to the tune of Gregorian chants! While not as big as Bacalhoa, it’s a larger producer, owning several vineyards in other wine regions.

 

After a tour of the gardens and cellar, we enjoyed a wine tasting in the main room with several interesting people, including an American couple who recently moved to Lisbon, a growing trend.

A Great Day in Lisbon's Setubal Wine Region

We sampled:

 

Periquita Reserva Branco, a nice white 😊+

Quinta de Camarate 😊😊

Jose de Sousa, from the winery’s vineyard in Portugal’s Alentejo region 😊😊

Alambre, the purple Muscatel, aged five years 😊😊

 

Quinta de Catralvos

A Great Day in Lisbon's Setubal Wine Region

The third winery we visited was tiny Quinta de Catralvos, which Nuno referred to as the tour company’s “secret place.”


This was a great change of pace from the larger, more established wineries. We were the only visitors, and received a lot of personalized attention. We enjoyed a tasting outdoors, with local Azeitao cheese, jam, and crackers. We sampled:

 

Catralvos Vinho Branco 😊😊

Catralvos Branco de Noir “Castelao”, a white wine from a red grape 😊😊

Catralvos Vinho Tinto, 😊++

Catralvos Reserva Tinto 😊😊+

Catralvos Muscatel de Setubal, aged five years 😊😊

 

What a great day in Lisbon’s Setubal wine region! We hope this info helps you plan your trip to this wonderful area. Saúdinha! (an informal way to say “cheers” in Portuguese).


Do you have any additional wineries in the Setubal wine region you recommend we visit?  Let us know! We’re at info@winewithourfamily.com

 

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