Since I’ve been living in Portugal for three years now, I’m very engaged in experiencing and learning the most I can about Portuguese life and traditions.
Although Brazil and Portugal share the same language and have a close culture, each day I discover customs and aspects of the Portuguese culture I didn’t know.
Following this spirit, last weekend, my family and I joined a group of friends to attend the last day of “vindima” at Quinta do Gradil, a winery located in the city of Cadaval, in Lisbon district.
Vindimas means grape harvest, but this Portuguese word covers much more. Vindimas are about all the traditions related to the season of grape wine harvesting and is held usually between September and October.
In the past, on the wine regions, families and friends gathered together to work in the vindima, and after harvesting the grape, they had a festive lunch, usually sounded by traditional folkloric music.
Nowadays, many Portuguese wineries promote vindimas programs so that tourists can revive this tradition.
We started our day riding from Lisbon to Quinta do Gradil. It was a cloudy fresh morning, the perfect weather to be working among the grapevine fields.
At 10:30, our activity began with a welcoming coffee with tasty regional products. We had half an hour to eat and get the necessary energy for the work ahead.
At 11:00, after a small briefing about the activity, we received t-shirts and straw hats and walked to the grapevine fields. Once arriving there, we held the scissors and took the basket to start our task.
After our guide’s quick speech about how cutting the grape from the vine, we were ready to start working. Although it was already the end of the harvesting season, and most of the grapes weren’t in the perfect conditions for wine production, we could feel the mood of the vindimas essence.
My eleven-year-old son, who didn’t want to come with us, had a great time. In fact, the three of us had a great time working together on the land, getting the grapes, checking their shapes, cutting them from the vine, putting them on the basket, helping each other to carry the basket that got heavier and heavier.
At 12:30, we put our baskets full of freshly picked up grapes on the top of the small truck and went to the winery facilities to start the real fun: the grapes stomping.
Whoever wanted to try it, first, had to wash their feet using a handheld shower and then enter on the barrel to start the fun.
At Quinta do Gradil, the process of certain peculiar wines still use the traditional human-foot grape stomping. They have a “lagar” (a big tank) that fits around 1 ton of grapes. But in our experience, we did the stomping on small barrels.
My son and husband didn’t want to join me on the stomping, by the way, none of our male friends adventured on this juicy experience. I understand that some people might think it is disgusting and not hygienic. But the experience itself is quite relaxing. It is as if you were in a grape spa, receiving a grape foot massage.
After cleaning up the mess, we headed to the winery facilities to have a quick explanation about the winemaking process.
Our visit ended with a delicious wine-themed meal paired with the tasty wines of Quinta do Gradil.
We had a full course delicious meal made of:
– Bread, wine butter and sardine paté and a grape gazpacho as a starter, paired with white wine;
– Pork with roasted apple and “migas” (a kind of Portuguese seasoned breadcrumbs), paired with red wine;
– Alicante tart as a dessert, paired with a rosé sparkling wine.
Finally, the adults were invited to visit the wine shop to receive a bottle of Quinta do Gradil red wine. Of course, almost everyone ended up buying some extra bottles for a good price!
It was a day well spent with my family and friends. We had a wonderful time far from the usual urban distractions we are so used to.
Vindimas in Portugal is definitely an experience to be lived at least once in a lifetime!
If you got interested and would like to experience vindimas, consider the following:
- Many wineries throughout Portugal promote this kind of Vindimas experience, but I highly recommend Quinta do Gradil. I only have compliments for them. From the friendly and attentive staff to the tasty meal we had at the restaurant. The location is also convenient if you are based in Lisbon.
- We booked our program through the local agency Lisbon by Clarisse, ran by Clarisse and Raquel. They organize tours and experiences in Lisbon and other places in Portugal. If you don’t know how to book an experience like that, contact them. They will help you for sure!