Quinta de Alcube is a place with more than 2000 thousand years that continues to surprise each day!
‘Do you need to be back at a given time?’, I didn’t. ‘Great, me neither’. And that set the tone of my tour at Quinta de Alcube.
During the 90s, having decided to change life and spend his days in the countryside, João Serra packed his belongings and moved to Quinta de Alcube – in the family since 1913 – restoring it from the neglect by the previous generation. The exciting prospect of a new life away from the fast pace of the city stirred not only João but also his children, who were determined to join their father.
They started by planting grapevines back in 1998 and what had begun as a farming endeavour, became an archaeological adventure! Every time the tractor found its way through the field, ancient artefacts and buried tools would crop up. Little by little, João Serra understood he was standing in the middle of an ancient Roman site as some of the objects found date back 2000 years.
Mills, pottery, wine and olive jugs and other farming items – the owner finds something new every day. Works for the building of the first cellar were halted when the bricklayer found, surprisingly, behind a wall, a Roman bath! ‘One day I’ll find a whole town!’ he says.
The Capela de S. Macário (S. Macário’s chapel) is also part of the estate and the initial plan was to build a small flat for overnight visitors, as an add-on to the 3 already existing bedrooms in the main manor. But João Serra thought of another purpose: these days the chapel works as an events room and the property museum, displaying some of the precious 2000-year-old artefacts, up to its most recent treasure, the wine!
You won’t find this brand in tradeshows and very few restaurants have them – this is because Quinta de Alcube is most likely the only maker that sells all their produce on the site! It’s true. The roughly 80 thousand gallons from the nearly 75 acres are all sold in the shop or happily drunk on the pleasant porch, after visiting the property.
At the moment, Quinta de Alcube manages 15 wine references, all of which from winemaker Jaime Quendera. I was lucky enough to try five of them, paired with Azeitão cheese, jams and honey, also handmade!
In spite of the influence the Castelão variety holds in Península de Setúbal, it was Trincadeira that surprised me and that seems to be gathering aficionados within and beyond borders. Today, it is the brand’s trademark, together with ‘Alcubissimo’ – a very flavourful and palatable late harvest.
When I asked João Serra what was the secret behind such a ‘well-oiled engine’, the answer was quick and simple ‘Love! Whatever I do here, I do it with love’.