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Meet Estremoz, Portugal’s Emerging Wine City

Estremoz is a marble city rising above the hills between the Serra D’Ossa mountains and the Spanish border.. Perched high above rolling plains, this walled city has quietly become a wine destination of note, rivaling  wine regions in the North and Center of Portugal.
Today almost 2 dozen big and small wineries surround the walls of the old city - some cultivating grapes at the foot of the walls. Estremoz has transformed over the past 30 years with extensive vineyards and a booming winemaking industry. And, these wineries all have their own point of view, and many offer guests the experience of wine production and tasting.

Why Estremoz? Well, according to the winemakers, there are three key factors: The soils - rich in marble and schist. The climate, hot dry days and cool nights with just enough spring rain. It is all in the altitude, which both encourages and pushes the grapes. For those reasons, vineyards now flank olive groves, marble queries, and pasture lands to make Estremoz a major wine destination. Add to that its world-class food scene, numerous monuments and lively markets - Estremoz is a vintage ready to savor, just 40 minutes drive from Évora, and 90 minutes from Lisbon.

As you approach, the walls and intact medieval castle of Estremoz draw your attention. This impressive fortress provides dominating views of the surrounding area. And, the white castle is a beacon, crafted of local marble.

Then, you see the mountains of stone around the local marble quarries, which have been in operation since ancient times. The marble from Estremoz is highly regarded and has been used in the construction of several famous buildings, including the Palace of Versailles in France.  The city is also surrounded by the picturesque countryside, dotted with vineyards and olive groves.

Once within the walls, Estremoz offers a charming town center with narrow streets, whitewashed houses, and traditional shops. Estremoz is famed for its traditional pottery, known as "Olaria de Estremoz." The town has a long tradition of pottery figures and has a whole museum dedicated to the art. There is a world class tile museum, as well offering wine tastings.

But the wines of Estremoz have become a significant reason that people visit. The first key to wine success is the weather: The vineyards in Estremoz benefit from the hot, dry summers and mild winters, which create optimal conditions for grape cultivation. Add to that, the grapes: Estremoz is known for its production of red wines made from traditional grape varieties such as Touriga Nacional, Aragonez, Alicante Bouschet, and Trincadeira. These grape varieties  contribute to the distinctiveness and quality of the wines produced here.

But, in recent years, winemakers in Estremoz have made significant investments in modernizing their vineyards and wineries. They have adopted modern winemaking techniques to ensure the production of great wines. But, this being Portugal, there has also been a focus on experimentation and innovation, with some winemakers introducing international grape varieties and implementing new aging and blending techniques. All that has led to wine tourism: Many wineries in the region have opened their doors to visitors, offering guided tours, tastings, dining and educational experiences.

Near the city of Estremoz is Herdade das Servas,  an impressive winery located just north of the town. The winery has a colorful history dating back to 1667, when it was founded by the Serrano Mira family.
The same family oversees it today.

João Portugal Ramos was  founded by a  winemaker considered one of the most influential figures in Portuguese winemaking- instrumental in promoting Portuguese wines on the international stage. The winery was established in 1990 and produces high-quality wines that showcase the unique characteristics of the Estremoz terroir.

The winery welcomes visits and focuses on both traditional and innovative winemaking techniques, blending tradition with modern. They cultivate a variety of grape varietals, including indigenous Portuguese grapes such as Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira, and Aragonez, as well as international varietals like Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay.

Tours and tasting can be booked in advance on their website.

Other wineries to explored and visit in Estremoz include: Tiago Cabaco, Quinta Dona Maria, Quinta do Carmo, Adega do Monte Branco, Herdade dos Outeiros Altos, and Vila Santa.

Today Estremoz the blend of unique  terroir, a guiding dedication to quality, innovation, tailored wine tourism offerings, and the abundance of cuisine and things to do make Estremoz a fast emerging wine destination worth exploring. It may just be Portugal’s new wine city, combining the best of traditional wine making with the latest technology. And, it offers some spectacular wines to complement its breathtaking views.

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