Inside Carvoeiro revisits Quinta dos Santos to Discover their New Flavours
– April 7, 2022
It was 2018 when the dos Santos family, originally from South Africa but with Portuguese roots, opened their stunning creation. Quinta dos Santos, an eight-hectare property located in Sesmarias, Lagoa, is better known for its artisanal beers, wines, and even olive oil. However, behind the gates of the whitewashed buildings, you’ll find treasures that do more than just stimulate your tastebuds. The symbiosis of quality and good taste is guaranteed at this family business focused solely on national flavours.
“The cornerstone of our business is artisanal production, focusing on national products and quality. We’re a family business with a very unique and growing project,” states Ann dos Santos, all of whom, together with their dedicated staff, play an essential role at Quinta dos Santos.
At the estate, the three hectares of vines planted in 2017 are now bearing fruit. The family invested exclusively in Portuguese grape varieties, four reds (Touriga Nacional, Negra Mole, Sousão and Bastardo) and four whites (Malvasia Fina, Arinto, Verdelho and Esgana Cão). These varieties take centre stage on the aptly named Tesouro (Treasure) labels, the estate’s premium range. Quinta dos Santos has another range, also produced in-house, labelled Escolhido (Chosen) made with grapes from local producers but from harvests meticulously selected by the dos Santos family. The cellar, managed by oenologist Mário Andrade, has unique properties that allow for ideal conditions for the production, storage, and ageing of all their wines. This space, which is open to visits, boasts structured and planned production procedures with fermentation in concrete and clay vats as well as wooden barrels. “We like to use different methods, and this is something that makes us stand out as producers,” says Ann.
The secret behind the Tesouro range lies in the quality and care of the grapes. “We have learned so much since the inception of this project and apply this knowledge with care. We plant cover crops – a combination of seeds that include chamomile flowers, clover, and green herbs that benefit the soil, the environment, and, consequently, the vines. Our pruning technique ‘guyot’ also allows us maximum yields of high-quality grapes” she explains.
Under Greg’s watchful eye, the estate’s artisanal brewery has the capacity to produce up to 35,000 litres of Dos Santos beer every month. The German Reinheitsgebot production method is combined with state-of-the-art equipment to produce the brand’s six varieties — Lager, Pilsner, Amber Ale, Pale Ale, IPA, and Stout. They all share a simple production method, with no additives or preservatives, but with very distinct flavours. The Pale Ale, for example, has a lower alcohol content but fosters a tropical feel with aromatic American hops. On the other hand, the Stout is a black beer in which the roasted malt creates intense coffee and chocolate flavours.
Having established their brands, the dos Santos family is now looking to develop a distillery so that they can produce their own spirits as well. And the first steps have already been taken. After launching the Escolhido Sparkling Wine in 2020, they released a very limited, 699-bottle edition of Dos Santos Gin.
However, the family assures there will be a second edition later this year. “Our gin is unique, produced with 14 local botanicals such as eucalyptus and rosemary, as well as hops” says Ann.
At the heart of the estate, and where all the flavours come together at the table, ‘A Esquina’ restaurant is spearheaded by Portuguese-Venezuelan chef René Santos and manager Mariana Silva, and it also hosts wine and beer tastings enjoyed after a guided tour of the Quinta with sommelier, David Ferreira-Jorge.
The menu changes twice a year according to seasonality and features creative contemporary re-interpretations of traditional dishes with local, seasonal ingredients. “We have fish, meat, seafood, and vegetarian dishes, highlighting our own production with dishes designed to pair well with our beers and wine,” Ann says. After a year of great demand, mainly for weddings, the family decided to open another private room which is ideal for small groups while exclusive use of the Quinta is given for large groups of up to a maximum of 60 guests.
Future plans for Quinta dos Santos
As for the future, Quinta dos Santos plans to increase its wine production capacity. To do so, the idea is to plant more vines with new grape varieties. For 2023, the estate plans to launch the Tesouro Sparkling Wine and a few red Tesouro labels. Until then, they are also considering producing artisanal honey, as well as boosting the production of olive oil, which is currently only for restaurant use.
Ann states: “We have so many ideas, all of which are inspired and begin at the Quinta. We are open-minded about what direction to follow in our business and there is continued room for expansion, but always with the philosophy of maintaining quality in all that we produce.”
Text by Maria Simiris