A trip to Adega Cartuxa in the Alentejo region of Portugal
Our trip to Adega Cartuxa in the Alentejo in Portugal began with insight into the Eugénio de Almeida family who founded the winery but also the charitable Fundacão de Eugénio de Almeida. It was 4th generation Vasco Maria who was a dedicated philanthropist to the town of Evora. We toured around his incredibly historical house in Evora as well as the family archives, which demonstrated just how important he was to the local community. The photo below of the local people marching towards his house to say thank you for his contribution to the local hospital was particularly moving.
Next on the agenda was a visit to the beautiful Scala Coeli (stairway to heaven) monastery. We felt very lucky to be able to tour around this as it’s not usually open to visitors. It was the Carthusian monks who established the monastery and this is why the locals called the monastery Cartuxa and from where Adega Cartuxa got its name.
It was truly fascinating learning about the lives of the Carthusian monks, who dedicate themselves to climbing the stairway to heaven by sacrificing many things we take for granted, like eating every day and talking. The inner courtyard was the most impressive as all surrounding sounds seemed to disappear, and a sense of inner peace came over us all.
We ended the trip at the winery in the Alentejo. The original winery and the vineyards at Alamo CIMA. The original winery building dates back to the 1600s when the Jesuits were in Evora. Here Cartuxa still age some of their wines, and here visitors can see the Talhas, old clay urns, in which they age their vinho de talha, a unique wine to this part of the Alentejo.
A visit to the new winery followed where they carry out most of their winemaking. Grapes are cooled in giant fridges, and all juice is gravity fed. Most impressive was finding out that they use an optical sorting table, one of only 4 in Portugal, that demonstrates their commitment to quality.
Winemaker Pedro Baptista then took us through a range tasting. Great to taste the new release 2015 Pera Manca red next to the 2014.
In the vineyards at Alamo CIMA, vineyards reach up to 350m altitude on a hilly terrain, not usual for this part of Alentejo. Whites are grown on granite, the Reds on schist. These are new vineyards for Cartuxa planted in 2011 and 2017, but they are very excited about the quality.