Ribafreixo was a green field site when owner Mario Pinheiro and his agronomist partner, Nuno Bica, purchased it back in 2007. Today it is a magnificent, thriving winery complete with 114 Hectares of vines, a self-sufficient winery and a lovely Adega Restaurant offering delicious food and open to the public twelve months of the year.

1.5m bottles of “vegan” wine are produced by the winery annually and Mario strives to keep the operation as green as commercially viable . Using only borehole water which is “recycled “ after use and carefully sourced pest and mildew treatments, production is a challenge despite the Winery s unique microclimate. Words such as “ambitious” and “vision” come to mind in connection with the project. 60% of Ribafreixo s planting consists of white grape varieties including Chenin Blanc, the only such planting of this grape in Portugal.

The fifty participants on the trip were given a tour of the winery where the harvest had only been completed recently. Following this the group tasted the Pato Frio Cashmere Rose wine, a single varietal Collections Verdelho 2021 and the award-winning Gaudio Reserva Red 2017.

Following a further tasting of both rose and white Espumante Brut, lunch was served in the beautiful restaurant with magnificent, panoramic views. A selection of locally sourced tapas, (smoked chorizio, Serpa cheese and a mushroom salad) preceeded grilled lombinos of Porco Preto in a butter/garlic sauce with a finale of Gelado of Delicia de Figo.

The meal was accompanied by the signature White Wine of which Mario is justifiably proud, the Herdade do Moinho Branco Antao Vaz 2018 and a Gaudio Classico Red 2015. A glass of the fortified Gaudio Licoroso accompanied the dessert.

Mario is a man of serious passion about his wine, his project and its production and this shines through with his infectious enthusiasm. It was a very happy, wine-laden, group that returned to the Algarve.