Alentejo, Portugal

Cartuxa is one of the oldest wineries in Portugal and is steeped in history. Vineyards have been on the same Quinta de Valbom site in Évora since 1517, when the Jesuits came to the region to establish the second oldest university in Portugal. The name Cartuxa comes from the Cartuxa monastery that the Carthusians started to build in 1587 and finished in 1598. In 1871 the Cartuxa monastery was rescued from ruin by the Eugénio de Almeida family. Over the years, the family invested and expanded the vineyard holdings, and today Cartuxa works across 1050 hectares of vineyards across four sites (650ha of which they own, and 400ha of which they rent with full control).

In 1963, Vasco Maria Eugénio de Almeida created Fundação Eugénio de Almeida, a charitable foundation responsible for developing many important social and cultural organisations across the region, including the Évora University, hospitals, social housing and numerous welfare institutions. The foundation continues its work today, more than 50 years after its foundation.

The wines of Cartuxa are produced within the Alentejo sub-region of Évora and have long been legendary within Portugal. Indeed, Pêra-Manca has a long pedigree that is intertwined with Portuguese history. Not only were the wines from the “Pêra-Manca region” first mentioned in a letter from Évora Town Council to King João II in 1488, but they were also aboard Pedro Álvares Cabral’s ship when he discovered Brazil in 1500. The Pêra-Manca brand was first patented in the 1870s, and the wines gathered international recognition when the reds won gold medals in Bordeaux soon after. Following many political changes in Portugal, the arrival of phylloxera and the death of the vineyard owner in 1920, the Pêra-Manca wines were not made again until 1990 when Cartuxa revived the Pêra-Manca label for its flagship wines. Today the wines celebrate native grape varieties and now have cult status within Portugal and around the world.

Olive oil is also a major part of the Fundação Eugénio de Almeida, and now farms an area of some 400ha. The most widely grown olive varieties are Galega, Cobrançosa, Cordovil and Picual, producing fine quality extra virgin olive oils.