Algarve points to the million liters of wine produced per year

In the Algarve, close to 500 thousand liters of wine are already produced, but it is on its way to «a million». This is […]

In the Algarve, close to 500 thousand liters of wine are already produced, but it is on its way to «a million». This is the expectation of the coordinator of the Algarve Wine Route Aníbal Neto, who, on the sidelines of the presentation of the project, this Tuesday, in Faro, revealed that, with the investors that have arisen and the additional effort of the already existing producers, the production numbers of this nectar in the region can be substantially increased in a short time.

The Algarve Wine Route was presented in the Algarve, in a session that also served to reveal some of the evolutions it has seen since its launch, last March, on the Lisbon Tourism Exchange.

This initiative has associated seven wineries, all of which can be visited, 10 restaurants and many other accommodation units. These are the entities that serve as the basis for the Passport Wine Route 2014, a small book that gives information on the four existing routes, all of them in Barlavento, in Portuguese and English, the wineries, restaurants and accommodations that are part of it, as well as information on monuments and museums in the areas covered.

Yesterday, it was learned that there are four more wineries in the pipeline to enter the Rota and two interested producers, which will allow the creation of two new itineraries, in Sotavento, namely in Loulé and Tavira.

These two municipalities are linked to the foreseeable increase in production, mainly Tavira, in whose Business Park Casa Santos Lima will be installed, «the biggest producer of “Vinho Regional Lisboa” and “DOC Alenquer” and one of the most awarded Portuguese producers in international competitions», according to the company itself.

Um player that bets on large production (in total, the company already explores more than 20o hectares of vines) and that «has already started to acquire land in Tavira, to plant vines and should start producing soon», according to Aníbal Neto.

Although it is still too early to estimate the production of this new producer, the coordinator of Rota dos Vinhos believes it will be close to 200 liters, when the current average, among the 31 Algarve winemakers with references in the market, is «at 40 liters per annum". The biggest producers will walk «on 100 liters per year».

“There are also several new vines, which have already been planted by existing growers. This leads us to think that we could reach the million liters per year. That would already be excellent», considered Aníbal Neto.


Hospitality in the region challenged to bet on Algarve wine

This predictable increase meets the ambitions of the Wine Route, a joint initiative of the Algarve Tourism Region (RTA) and the Algarve Wine Commission (CVA). But it is also necessary that the region, especially the tourism sector, bet more on local products.

In the session that took place yesterday at the Algarve Hotel and Tourism School, several participants drew attention to this need. And it was not by chance, since, although this is not the original presentation of the Algarve Wine Route (it had already been released on BTL in March), was the first in the region and had many businessmen, professionals, tour operators, specialists and producers.

Aníbal Neto's message, during his presentation of Rota, ends up summarizing what this platform intends to do. "We think that restaurants and accommodation units should promote Algarve wine, because they won't feel ashamed," he said. And, thus, everyone wins.

And can we already talk about wine tourism in the Algarve? Desidério Silva believes so. "For three or four years now, things have improved substantially, the quality of wines has gone up and the wineries and producers themselves have created the conditions to receive tourists, in terms of hygiene and safety, among others," said the president the RTA, on the sidelines of the session.

"I think that all of this is heading towards sustainability and that in three or four years the region will have a product that will be very identified, highly valued and with very good quality," he added.

But, until recently, few spoke of wine tourism in the region. «We cannot use a word, when we do not have quality and minimally sustainable supply for it», defended Desidério Silva.

From the perspective of RTA, this will be, at least for the time being, a complementary product that will serve to add value to the Algarve's global offer, in terms of tourism. «Hotels no longer sell only the room. They are increasingly selling different experiences, from hiking, mountain biking, through the Wine Route and nature observation», he said.

“However, we cannot compare what is not comparable. The Algarve is the Algarve, the Alentejo is the Alentejo. What we have is the ability to have something different, even with fewer wines», he considered.


Effects of the Wine Route are not felt yet, but there are good expectations

A few months after the launch of Rota and the Algarve Wine Guide, there is still no tangible return, in terms of performance, from the participating entities. Rúben Pinto, winemaker at Adega do Cantor since 2008, confesses that he has not noticed a "great difference", but stresses that the initiative "is still in its infancy".

“I think it will take some time for it to be publicized and for people to get to know the guide and the Wine Route well. But I think it will be a success», he considered.

Part of this conviction is linked to the work and effort to improve the quality of wines that have been done by regional producers. Something that has won national and international awards, not only to Adega do Cantor, which has the English musician Cliff Richards as a partner, but to many other wineries in the Algarve.

«There has been a great evolution in terms of wine quality. In our particular case, we are increasing not only the quality, but also the quantity”, revealed Rúben Pinto. In 2013, Adega do Cantor won gold in the international competition «Berlin Wine Trophy», with the multi-award winning wine «Adega Nova Tinto 2010», but the winemaker pointed out that «there are many other Algarve producers who have also collected prizes».