Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Wine Chronicles | Wineries Visit at Fernando Pó (Palmela, Portugal)

Fernão do Pó (or Fernando Pó) was a 15th century Portuguese navigator, allegedly one of the first European men to step on the Gulf of Guinea islands, one o which was named after him (currently Byoco).  But those weren't the only lands named after the Portuguese explorer. A wide plain, not far from Lisbon has long ago became known as Fernando Pó and, in more recent years, as the place of some serious winemaking, with wineries winning medals after medals in some of the most important international wine contests.

In this region, distinguished by a layer of soft sands, covering the soil of clay, the microclimate provided by the proximity of the Tagus and Sado rivers protects and facilitates the perfect ripening of the grapes. The resulting wines are known for their structure, body, color and, especially, aroma. With some of the wineries associating the judicious choice of grape varieties to a modernization of the processes, combining tradition with the most modern technology, it has been possible to produce wines of high quality that do not cease to amaze the connoisseurs.

During the months of April and May (every Thursdays and Saturdays, until May 27) you can make a visit to 3 major wineries in the region, hear and talk to their winemakers, and taste some wine and regional products. The visit starts at Oriente train station in Lisbon, and after less than 30 minutes you arrive at Fernando Pó. A car with a guide will take the group of visitors on a tour to 3 wineries and then back to the train station at the end of the visit. The complete visit takes about 9 hours. I've done this visit a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed every minute of it. Let me tell you more about it!

On arrival to Fernando Pó the group were welcomed by our guide from Rota dos Vinhos da Península de Setúbal (Wine Route) and by the winemaker of Filipe Palhoça Wines, a family-owned company dedicated for more than 50 years to viticulture and wine production in the sand plain of Palmela. Marta, the winemaker, took us in a visit trough the vine gardens and shared her knowledge on vine growing and wine making. From the vineyards we get to Quinta da Invejosa, the headquarters of the estate, to know some more about the wine making process and for a tasting of Moscatel wine (both Setúbal and Roxo varieties), that we paired with a traditional cake of the region (Fogaças).

Next stop at Fernão Pó Winery, a company that seeks to combine the best of tradition with modern technology, while strongly committed to social and environmental principles, such as adherence to the Wine in Moderation and the Business and Biodiversity programs, in addition to producing grapes with environmental certification.

At Fernão Pó, after a guided visit to the winery, held by their  winemaker João, we were invited to a tasting of 3 of their wines that were paired with Tibornas (a Portuguese traditional recipe resembling Bruschettas) and with crackers with the winery's special wine jams.

Fernão Pó Winery takes very seriously the strong bond between wine and gastronomy, and João will give you sound advice on pairing their wines with specific foods. The passion and knowledge he expresses while talking to us about winemaking and the wines he presents is contagious and you will not notice the time passing by. Well, maybe the fact that you are on your fifth wine glass will help too!

After joyfully saying goodbye to our kind hosts at Fernão Pó, a merry group of wine lovers get on their way to Casa Ermelinda Freitas, where we have lunch on the terrace, before visiting the winery.
The view from the terrace is spectacular, with vines extending to the horizon and the food was absolutely delicious. We couldn't thank enough to Maria her outstanding cooking skills.

Once more, lunch was an opportunity to know (and taste) a traditional recipe called Sopa Caramela - a meat and vegetables soup  specific to the region, named after the seasonal works from the north part of Portugal that came to the region to work on the vines. The rich flavor, the tender meats (served on the side, the freshly baked bread and, of course, the wine made this lunch a memorable experience.

After a most interesting visit to the winery, conducted by Susana, we return to the terrace for one more wine tasting experience, where the pairing was made with some superb regional cheese (I've told you about Azeitão cheese before), bread and regional charcuteries. By that time we were having some hard time dealing with numbers, but 10 wine glasses were some of the numbers that I can remember to hear between smiles and laughs.

Was time then to finish the visit and return to the train station. Everybody in the group looked relaxed and happy after a great day. Although I've been a guest to Rota dos Vinhos, all the opinions presented here are my own and I would strongly recommend this program to anyone that loves wine, food and to know more about wine making in Portugal.

These 3 wineries have their own wine tourism programs and I'll be talking to you about them in the next few weeks. Until then, you can pay their sites a visit and know some more about them and the great wines they are making.

For more information on the visit contact:
Wine Route of the Setúbal Peninsula
Phone: + 351 212 334 398

Price per person:
Adults € 54 |  Children up to 16 years old: € 38

The price includes transportation by train, transfer between wineries, referred experiences (wine is only served to participants over 18 years old) and a bottle of water. Subject to the minimum number of 6 participants.


  1. Wonderful Tour! I definitely have to try some real good wine before I quit drinking for good!

  2. I'm not a drinker, but the imagery of the location makes me want to go here regardless.

  3. Never heard of Pamela before. Nice that they pair food with the wines. Those cookies look interesting.


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