Portugal Revisited – 7. Life at Paço de Calheiros


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“Paço is a place where kings rested” the Count said

 

During our 2016 Wine Tour of Portugal, we spent three nights at Paço de Calheiros near Ponte de Lima in northern Portugal.

Day 1

“Staying in Calheiros is like going back in time. The water is fresh from the mountains, the fruits and vegetables are from the garden and even the bread is made in the same wood oven as our great grandparents did. Our family has lived in this place for seven hundred years.”  Francisco de Calheiros, The Count of Calheiros explained. We were sitting in the afternoon sun and drinking tea.

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We had driven up to the ancient manor house in the hills above the little village of Calheiros in the Minho from Guimarães that afternoon. We could see the house from the bottom of the Lima Valley. The twisting narrow road took us to the top of the hill. The impressive gate at the end of drive was just wide enough for our mini-coach. We drove along a tree lined avenue to the imposing house with Moorish features and a stone fountain in the front yard under a massive magnolia tree.

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The house has five guest bedrooms with individual names. Mine was at the end of a corridor. The room was small but attractive and had beautiful furniture, an entrance lobby and a large modern bathroom. French windows led to a terrace with magnificent views of the vine covered Lima Valley.

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“You are all welcome to Calheiros and I will receive you personally and give you all informations about vinho verde, visit the vines, the wine cellar and taste our varieties.” the Count wrote to me in March. He certainly kept his promise.

That evening we tasted the estate’s three wines – a sparkling, white and a red, from Loureiro and Vinhao, on a little terrace overlooking the vineyards.

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That evening, the count invited us to dine with his family and friends who had arrived from Argentina. We sat at an enormous table and a maid served home produced meat, vegetables and fruit.  We drank Calheiros Loureiro with the meal.

Day 2

The sound of cockerels woke me in the morning. A light mist rose from the valley. The air was fresh and fragrant. The Count joined us for breakfast and afterwards, gave us a tour of the house and gardens. He showed us the chapel where his parents are buried, the formal rooms, the spa with open air swimming pool, sauna  and jacuzzi, the vineyards and winery, the banqueting hall and the little museum with family memorabilia. We walked passed ancient olive trees and through the kitchen garden to the woods where roe deer roamed.

Breakfast room

Breakfast room

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Winery

Winery

That day we went Melgaco to have lunch with Anselmo Mendes and were late returning to Paço Calheiros after the tasting and dinner in Ponte de Lima.

Day 3

After an early breakfast, we drove to Lindoso to hike in the Peneda-Geres national park, returning to Paço Calheiros only for a short rest in the afternoon before going out to dinner at Quinta do Ameal.

Day 4

That morning we packed our bags and got ready to leave Paço Calheiros. The Count joined us for breakfast, gave us autographed prints of the manor house as a parting gift and stood with us for a group photograph.

We drove to Melgaco again to taste and have lunch at Soalheiro before the long journey to Quinta Nova, our next base in the Douro.

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Our stay at Paço Calheiros was arranged by Mafalda Nicolau Almeida of Miles Away

 

Paço de Calheiros
Calheiros
4990-575 Calheiros
Ponte de Lima | Minho | Portugal

Telephone: + 351 258 947164, email: reservas@pacodecalheiros.com

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