Live and Let Live.

Casa de Vilacetinho and Quinta da Aveleda

The next instalment from Karl, about our travels in Green Wine Country.

Vineyard - Casa de Vilacetinho

Vineyard – Casa de Vilacetinho

Travelling north from central Portugal to the green wine region requires us to drop down to the coastal plain and take our pick of the range of pay-to-drive motorways, or jostle with all the other motorists on the small old – but free network.

In Portugal the tolls can be quite appreciable and so the toll roads are mostly deserted or very quiet compared to the UK, if fact in can sometimes be eerily quiet – like driving along in a scene from Day of the Triffids – or some end of the world movie.

The main North-South artery the A1 isn’t like that at all! Between Aveiro and Porto it is relatively busy and the further towards Porto the busier it becomes.

Our first destination involved us driving towards Porto and then taking the ring motorway or CREP (Cintura Regional Externa do Porto) A41, which has recently been completed. This road is definitely of the eerily quiet variety and one wonders why it was built! It takes you east past the Star Wars-esque named Gondomar system into the urban hinterland of Porto. This area is dominated by Eucalyptus crowned hills above rapid and ugly unplanned urban sprawl. So it came as a surprise that as we left the motorway and joined the old N108 and followed the Douro river inland the scenery improved with every mile and the first gem of our project is Casa de Vilacetinho.

Casa de Vilacetinho

Nestling in the urbanisation and peering over to the River Douro is the green oasis of Vilacetinho.

Vilacetinho - NestOur first challenge was finding our way into the vineyard – an experience that was often repeated throughout this project! – but we strangely found a helpful brown Rota dos Vinhos Verdes sign, and then the large modernish Wisteria clad Adega.

The first thing that strikes you are the large Granite Chinese lions! And then the tranquility and calm that is Casa de Vilacetinho embrace you.

Despite it being a very warm day we set off to discover, explore and plan our walk.

We quickly felt that the vineyard is very special and just as the vines draw their personality from the earth where they are planted, and the conditions to which they are exposed, Casa de Vilacetinho has developed over the centuries adding genuine depth and character to the place.

Orchard - Casa de Vilacetinho

Orchard – Casa de Vilacetinho

Blossom - Casa de Vilacetinho

Blossom – Casa de Vilacetinho

At the heart of the Quinta and our walk are two dissimilar but beautiful buildings, the first – a family home, Quinta de Ventuzelas– is set in the most lovely of English style gardens, but in Portugal the scent from the jasmine clinging to the building was knockout!

Vilacetinho - jasmine

Jasmine – Casa de Vilacetinho

The second building that lends its name to the estate is the – ripe for renovation – Casa de Vilacetinho an elegant manor house of the 17th & 18th centuries, overlooking the River Douro surrounded by an attractive formal knot garden that separates the house from the vineyards and the adjoining rich farmland.

Casa de Vilacetinho

Casa de Vilacetinho

Knot Garden - Casa de Vilacetinho

Knot Garden – Casa de Vilacetinho

Wisteria  - Casa de Vilacetinho

Wisteria – Casa de Vilacetinho

Our walk also takes in the well labeled rows of vines including Avesso, the variety that has put Vilacentinho’s wine amongst the very best Green Wines and has produced a Silver medal award-winning Casa de Vilacetinho Colheita Seleccionada Avesso 2012 varietal wine in the 2013 Concours Mondial de Bruxelles.  Casa de Vilacetinho scooped a number of awards, including The Grande Gold Medal.

Casa de Vilacetinho - Gold Medal

Casa de Vilacetinho – Gold Medal

Avesso is a white grape variety grown throughout the Vinho Verde region, and especially near the Douro, where the soils are drier and more suited to this variety. The Avesso grapes produce fruitily aromatic, well-balanced and distinctly delicious pear-drops and fruity flavoursome wines.

We both enjoyed the vineyard, the hospitality of the owners and the delicious wines.

Moving back towards Porto on the busy A4 took us past the large plain modern towns of Penafiel and Parades before leaving the motorway for the quieter roads to Aveleda.

Quinta da Aveleda

Quinta da Aveleda is the home of one of Portugal’s most popular and well known green wines Casal Garcia (the bottle with the lace hankie designed label), and the major producer and exporter of white wine in Portugal.

Aveleda - Peacock

Peacock – Quinta da Aveleda

So it’s on a big scale, but it manages to embrace the new without compromising the beauty of the estate and the grandeur of its old buildings.

Garden Path - Quinta da Aveleda

Garden Path – Quinta da Aveleda

Aveleda was for us like visiting a west of Scotland garden on a beautiful spring day. The sun was shining, the tall English oaks were just coming into leaf and beneath the canopy was a florid display of Azaleas, Rhododendrons and other spring flowers, the smells, and sights were unforgetable.

Marian - Quinta da Aveleda

Marian – Quinta da Aveleda

We walked around a magical and well maintained garden, enjoying its unique follies, lakes, fountains and glorious mature trees, including a flowering tulip tree.

Goat Tower

Goat Tower

Goat Tower Close Up

Goat Tower Close Up

Goat Residents of the Tower

Goat Residents of the Tower

Tulip Tree Flower - Quinta da Aveleda

Tulip Tree Flower – Quinta da Aveleda

If a place can have a green heart then this garden is it for Aveleda, it permeates the entire estate lending it a timeless calm.

Summer House on the Lake - Quinta da Aveleda

Summer House on the Lake – Quinta da Aveleda

As one of the country’s largest producers, it does have a slightly corporate feel and scale, but they do produce some great wines and their new single variety Alvarinho is worth seeking out and enjoying.

Vineyard - Quinta da Aveleda

Vineyard – Quinta da Aveleda

Our next visit – moving further North and inland! What do Quinta Mosteiro de Santo André de Ancede, Quinta de Covela and Quinta do Ferro hold in store for us?

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3 comments on “Casa de Vilacetinho and Quinta da Aveleda

  1. portugalholidayguide
    August 23, 2013

    .. It looks and sounds fantastic so far … looking forward to where you go next . I was up in Porto at the week end and had a bottle of Garcia … I do like the green wines .. so look forward to hearin of other nice ones to look out for . Great photos by the way …

    • karmaquinta
      August 24, 2013

      Thank you. This project has really opened our eyes to the amazing range of green wines. The Casa de Vilacetinho Avesso mentioned in the post is really excellent. If you are in the green wine region, you can sometimes buy from the vineyards themselves, and can find wines not usually seen in the shops.

      • portugalholidayguide
        August 24, 2013

        I am near to Coimbra, so I only see the green wine in the shops .. but will pay more attention to the labels when I am in the wine aisle , and check if any are ones you mention …

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This entry was posted on August 23, 2013 by in Out & About and tagged , , , , , , .

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