Getting to know the oldest wine company in Portugal, founded by the King Joseph I in 1756, was an unique experience!
I had the privilege to visit and stay overnight, at a place that is not open to the general public – Quinta do Cidrô, in São João da Pesqueira. From this estate we cannot behold the Douro River, but by no means is the view any less beautiful!
Surrounded by the vineyards that produce one of my favourite Portuguese wines, the Palace of Cidrô was built mid 19th century and, having had several owners, is currently property, since 1972, of Real Companhia Velha. The interior was recently restored_ There are 21 rooms meant for special guests only, and an elegant lounge, with a veranda overlooking the gardens, which I quaintly named “little Versailles”.
Both estates, Quinta dos Aciprestes, very well known among wine lovers, and Quinta das Carvalhas, belong to Real Companhia Velha. The latter , near Pinhão, a vlilage close-by, offers wine tourism activities for those who visit such as long walks around the property, jeep tours among the vineyards going as far as Casa Redonda, at the top of the estate, bird and flora watching, and even boar hunting.
On our way out of Quinta das Carvalhas, there is a Real Companhia Velha boutique, where, beyond wine tasting sessions, a wide range of the estate wines and olive oils are available for purchase. (Note from the author: Not all of them though! You will not find the superb Port Wine from 1900 I was delighted to be served after lunch, and in which I gladly indulged on the porch of the house while gazing over the Douro river, for it isn’t for sale in the shop!).
For those who would like to experience more of this house with over 250 years of history, Real Companhia Velha’s activity extends from Douro to Vila Nova de Gaia, where we can visit the aging cellar for its Port wines.
I once read somewhere that the quality of the wine measures up to the beauty of the place where it is produced. After visiting Real Companhia Velha, those words stand more true than ever!