SÃO LOURENÇO DO BARROCAL
It isn't just the wine that will intrigue you to come visit Barrocal, but also its discrete appeal. It exudes a quiet authenticity which makes it intriguing to visit.
Barrocal is a time machine, taking you to a place and time where everything is at a stand still; untouched by progress and modernity. This 200-year old family-run farm and vineyard is located in the center of the gentle rolling landscapes of Alentejo. The warm air is sweet and wraps you up comfortably while you sit outside and enjoy the view.
The man behind this beautiful place is Jose Uva. He has dedicated the last 15 years to completely renovating the Barrocal. He has restructured 40 bungalows, revitalized a large vineyard, and created an exquisite restaurant. His mission was to rethink how the property functioned, then and now. His main focus in doing so is to respect the full integrity of the land.
There are numerous layers of occupation is this area. 7000 years of history has brought different settlements; from Neolithic cultures (16 dolmans exist in this area) to the Romans, Moors and more. So Jose didn’t rush to simply build a touristy accommodation. He has dedicated vast amounts of time preserving the DNA of the entire place, keeping it holistically beautiful and in harmony with both time and nature.
Their footprint on the environment here is very minimal. They use photo-voltaic power and local water sources. As Jose puts it: “I had to look back a consider what the land was used for and make sense of how we can adapt that thinking in a contemporary way. We want to connect the past and future. We produce everything we eat and drink here. We've done a lot to keep the integrity of the land and make people feel what it was like to be on the land 200 years ago.”
Barrocal pays a lot of attention to the finer details. You're welcomed by their family pictures, their aesthetics, and the beauty connected to the balance of things as they are.
“We´re very fortunate because what was built here before was already beautiful, so we just had to keep that richness alive. The harmony of this place, like the olive trees, is part of the balance of the way we renovated and the way we keep the integrity of the place.”
“My wife is an architect; and here too was another opportunity to balance. We never compromised on quick solutions; like buying furniture off the shelves for instance. We really took our time. Like our roof tiles. They´re 400 year old tiles and we didn't want to disrespect the architecture by replacing it with cheaper materials.” With the picturesque environment that is the end result, we couldn’t agree more.
Wine seems to tie everything together here at Barrocal. Wine is the past, present, and future. It represents how they think about agriculture, how they think about a meal, how they interact with nature.
In a culture like this, wine is just as much about family and friends. Being at a table, enjoying tradition. And here there is a right wine and right pairing for each of these experiences. Wine speaks of time and connects every moment in a rich, fluid memory.
Jose Prides himself on a small vineyard that produces a respectful amount of wine. Together with Susana Esteban, who is a renowned enologist in Portugal, they have begun producing some of the area's best wines. Theirs is a combination of old vines and some more recent ones Jose planted. He used varieties indigenous to Alentejo. They do not irrigate the vineyard and keep the winemaking process as holistic as possible. And it certainly shows in the taste.
The spirit of Barrocal in one word? Jose looks off thoughtfully. “The word that always comes to mind — which is the most challenging things in a project that has 200 years of history — is honesty. The honesty of the people, the craft, the food...This authenticity is all about making sure that you're not trying to merge ideas you might see somewhere else, but instead trying to dive into the deeper layer of culture without being pastiche.”
Given the majesty of this project, we asked Jose if he would do this project again, maybe elsewhere? His answer came without a momen’t hesitation. “Yes. Alentejo is a region that has a lot to give. It has a beautiful Atlantic coast. Very unique wine varietal. What I have been thinking about is thinking of Alentejo in areas like Monsaraz — as a mold for other similar project in Portugal.” To have a second Barrocal would be like having a second trip to the Garden of Eden.
Barrocal reflects a thousand years of culture; the farm itself is very honest about its history. Whether you come to try the wines or come to have a wedding, this is a place that will stay with you for ages.
Chef José Júlio Vintém leads the farm-to-table fine dining experience at Barrocal.
The vegetable gardens and olives groves are on the same land, and are also served at dinner; where the menu of homegrown and locally sourced produce is sure to be appetizing. Food at São Lourenço do Barrocal is rooted in authentic Alentejo flavors. Naturally, the selection is always paired with single-estate wines from the São Lourenço do Barrocal winery. There is nothing too overwhelming in terms of taste, but each dish features a more natural and traditional approach, exactly what people long for outside of the city.
The dining room combines handmade terracotta flooring with polished marble tabletops to create a fresh, modern farmhouse space that truly feels at home. This is simplicity at its most elegant. Everything from the dining room to the food itself is rooted in the culinary tradition of the Alentejo; and is based on the concept of sharing, as families in the area have done for generations. And if there is one thing you feel here, whether riding horses to Monsaraz Castle or enjoying dinner and a laugh over the day’s events, it is a sense of family.
Barrocal certainly captures the soul of Alentejo, and the wine captures is heart.
These aren't simply words, they are a call to a place that you´ll never want to leave.
The winery is an integral part of the hotel and the estate's regeneration, producing first-class single-estate wines. Several indigenous, portuguese grape varietals are hand-picked then carefully blended before being matured in French white-oak casks. São Lourenço do Barrocal wines reflect the character of the 10-year-old vines and the unique terroir where they are grown.
The Barrocal's reserve red wines are created from Touriga Nacional and Alicante Bouschet. Whereas, their rich, mellow red wines and elegant, crisp whites use more foreign varieties.
Climate, soil, history and craft
At the heart of the renowned Alentejo winemaking region and influenced by the Alqueva lake, the vineyard in São Lourenço do Barrocal enjoys the region's dry, hot summer days and cool nights, slowly maturing the grapes for depth of flavor. Its vines are deeply rooted in granite and schist soils, creating wines that reveal both structure and power.
The Winemaker: Susana Esteban
The Alentejo wines are crafted by awarded winemaker Susana Esteban. The surprising number of indigenous grape varieties that can be found in Portugal, such as Aragonês, Alicante Bouschet and Touriga Nacional for red wine and Roupeiro, Marsanne and Viogner for white, has made the Spanish-born Susana set roots in the vast, sun-washed open country of the Alentejo. Renowned for her vibrant and fresh wines, she is the winemaker responsible for all our elegant 'high expression' blends.
GPS coordinates 38° 26 ‘34.57” N, 7° 25 ‘2.52” W