It is said that Coffee comes from the Arabic word Qahwa, which means Wine
After a life time devoted to coffee brewing and trade, commendation awardee Rui Nabeiro, decided to pursue an old tradition from Campo Maior and set up a new business: wine making. In 1997, he planted the first vineyard with the well known local grape varieties, having added other national and international varieties later on.
So that those grapes turned into wine, one day he invited Siza Vieira (a remarkable Portuguese architect) to lunch and during said lunch, they started planning a wine cellar that became more real as the architect sketched away.
The first harvest from Adega Mayor came out in 2002 and proved that the company’s new venture had a life of its own, and was not in the shadow of the coffee trade.
Today, Adega Mayor is one of the most popular wine cellars in Alentejo, visited by several wine connoisseurs and I wanted to know why! Upon arrival I was welcomed with a pic nic carefully put together on the grass, by the water mirror and with a view to the hills.
A few local cheeses, bread and homemade jams, with two bottles of ‘Solista’, a white one made with Verdelho grapes and the other a Pinot Noir Rosé, followed by a sericaia (typical Alentejo egg dessert) with a dash of the top level red wine Reserva do Comendador 2011. This picturesque setting asked for a nap, but I resisted temptation and carried on.
Starting off with a short video that explains a little of the company’s history, and the full ride of a grape from the vine to the bottle, I continued to the vinification cellar; passed through the underground cellars where concerts take place thanks to the great acoustics and ended in the shop where, beyond the house wines, you can find local products and wine books.
Visiting Adega Mayor alone is worth the trip to Campo Maior, but if you have time, stop at the Centro de Ciência do Café (Coffee Science Centre), the only one in the Iberian Peninsula, presenting several stories and activities that will teach you a little more about this crop, accidentally found by goats that, after tasting it, wouldn’t stop jumping! (you must go if you want to know what I am talking about!).
If the words Coffee and Wine are related, then it is at Adega Mayor that they truly come hand in hand!