Inside visits the beautiful Quinta Dos Santos
Originally from Cape Town, the dos Santos family spent many summer holidays in the Algarve. Three years ago, they began putting into action their plan of living in Portugal, on a farm surrounded by a vineyard, and are now the proud owners of their stunning creation – Quinta Dos Santos, in Sesmarias,
Carvoeiro. The family consists of mother and father Ann and Eugene, two sons, Kyle and Greg, and Kyle’s wife Elayna. Every member of the family is vitally important to the smooth running of their farm, which currently boasts a craft beer brewery, vineyard, tapas bar, art & interiors gallery and accommodation. Eugene’s father was born in Lisbon, and the family feel a strong connection with Portugal.
The property is understated and beautifully designed, without feeling ‘designed’. It looks as if it has been there forever, which is quite an achievement. Ann is a keen designer and a firm believer in good and bad energies. Having used the feng shui principles in all of her design projects, she consulted with a professional, classical feng shui consultant from Lisbon – Sofia Lobo Cera, who assisted her with the project from the very beginning. As a family-owned business serving the community, it was essential to Ann that the work environment be a harmonious, creative, positive and a profitable space.
As you enter the gated driveway, you are immediately struck by a feeling of peace and tranquillity, with the vast yet unobtrusive whitewashed buildings making a perfect border for the growing vines in the vineyard. It is immaculate but feels lived-in at the same time, and the attention to detail is excellent. Entering the main building, there is a welcoming courtyard that acts as the heart of the area, with the Craft Brewery that is encased in glass, enabling visitors to sit and watch head brewer Greg hard at work on his next batch of
Dos Santos Craft Beer, while enjoying a refreshing beer or glass of wine under the sun. To the right, there is the A Esquina (the corner) tapas bar, which has a privileged corner setting, allowing guests to enjoy the lovely view out over the vineyard and garden. Across from A Esquina is the gallery space, O Espaço, where local artists will be invited to display and sell their works alongside an array of delicious, local gourmet and luxury items that will be for sale.
The plot is eight hectares in total, with three hectares of vines and one of olive trees. The wines that will be produced, on site, will be from the Portuguese varietals: Tinto Negra Mole, Touriga Nacional and Sousão reds, along with Malvasia Fina, Arinto, Verdelho, Esgana Cão whites. With an expected 35,000 litres of wine from the fully matured crop, the boutique vineyard should be well stocked in no time. As newbies to the winemaking world, guidance from their Agricultural Engineer/Viticulturist, Aníbal Neto, and Oenologist Mário Andrade was crucial and they have entrusted them in all stages from the preparation and planting of the land and vineyards to the selection and creation of the wines themselves. Both Mário and Aníbal came highly recommended, and after tasting the initial results of the maiden production, the family was pleased with their selection.
The wines from Quinta dos Santos will have two different labels: Escolhido and Tesouro. “As we only planted in May of last year and we do not yet have grapes available for production, a decision was made to establish the brand Escolhido, which means ‘chosen’ in Portuguese,” explained Elayna. “Wines from the local region of the Algarve which were not produced on our farm but that we have personally selected due to their high quality will fall under this label.”
The family is also “producing wine in the Adega Cooperativa de Lagoa from selected grapes harvested from local vineyards under the Escolhido wine label. This will change once our winery is operational. Once we are able to harvest the grapes from our vineyard, we will produce the wine for Tesouro, which means ‘treasure’ in Portuguese”, she revealed. “Tesouro’s production will begin in approximately two years’ time.”
The brewery takes pride of place, on the left side of the courtyard, and you can see the fabulous, shining Italian vats, hard at work producing the craft beer that proudly bears the family name – Dos Santos Craft Beer.
As Greg’s interest in craft beer grew during his apprenticeship three years ago, it was decided that Craft Beer should play an important role in the business. “We will have three commercial beers available, which will be distributed to the market,” he told us. “These will be our Lager, Pilsner and Amber Ale. The same three beers will be on tap in our tapas bar and tasting room, as well as three additional rotating taps for experimental and seasonal beers.”
To make these beers, Greg uses “the German method of production, with no additives or chemicals”. Using a combination of English, German, Czech and American hops, he can brew “up to 9,000 litres per month, depending on demand. Presently myself and my brother work in the brewery, however, in time and with growth, I will be adding people to my team.”
Greg also explained what drew him to become a brewer: “I have always been a more hands-on type of person and not someone who can sit behind a desk from 9 to 5 and do the same thing every day. Living in Cape Town, there was a boom in the craft beer industry, and little craft breweries were opening up all over town. The creativity and science behind the beer were what interested me and how someone can produce such different and amazing flavours in a beer. And last, but not least, the satisfaction that it brings when you see people enjoying the beer you created.”
As for his personal tastes, he says he has “never been one for outrageous beers. I have always enjoyed a clean and simple but different beer. So far the one beer I have tasted which impressed me most was from a brewery in Cape Town called Drifter Brewing Company. The beer was an Ocean Aged Tripel, meaning it was a Belgian-style beer with 10% alcohol which the brewer aged in 75cl bottles. These were placed on the bottom of the ocean floor off the coast of Cape Town for one year. I thought it was a cool thing to do and the flavour the beer offered was fantastic”. His favourite, however, is “the one which brings people together”.
The tapas bar opened in February and has been a big hit so far with front of house manager José Cabrita – who previously worked at Vila Joya and Vila Vita – being an integral member in the preparation phase and taking care of the day to day management of A Esquina. Heading the kitchen, chef Miguel
Lima is passionate and professional, dedicated to creating and re-interpreting traditional dishes in a contemporary way using seasonal ingredients. “I made a decision and accepted the challenge of being a part of a Portuguese-focused project at Quinta dos Santos, to be a team leader and create an amazing experience for all that visit A Esquina,” he says. “Our aim is for our food to represent Portugal in taste and choice, served as petiscos (tapas-style dishes, meant for sharing), to bring fresh, ‘farm to table’ style food to the Algarve to be tasted and enjoyed by our clients.” As for its designation, “it was given this name because it forms the corner of our main building leading from the interior courtyard and overlooking the vineyards”, Elayna explained. “Symbolically it is the cornerstone of our project as it serves to introduce our beer and our wine to the public, accompanied by simple and seasonal dishes. A Esquina is currently dedicated to serving only our beer and eventually our wine, olives and olive oil that we produce on our farm.”
Then there is Casa Terra, a quaint three-bedroom, two-bathroom, self-catering cottage, with a pool overlooking the vineyards. Originally a ‘ruin’ discovered on the property, the casinha (little house) has been sensitively restored to maintain its traditional character. In phase two, the family will introduce some smaller accommodation, suitable for couples and an elegant dining area in the wine cellar.
Quinta dos Santo expect to do both wine and brewery tour s and tastings starting in the summer and is closed on Mondays.
Text: Mia Wallace
Photos: Elayna Bartolacci