I will never forget the year I chased fall to the end of November while traveling through Portugal. As a Montana native, I expect snow in October, every year. Perhaps that is why my memories of my time there are so special to me. Or perhaps it is just Portugal’s beauty, Vinho Verde, salty sea breezes, softly ruffling orange leaves, and endless waves crashing along the rocky Algarve coast. For me, these sensations made Portugal the living embodiment of a dream come true.
After traveling westward from Spain with the wind at our back, arriving in Portugal was like coming home. We found a town, rented an apartment, and made our days full by visiting the beach, the fish market, the vegetable market, and reading long-forgotten books. Every walk was sun-kissed, every sunset was weep-worthy.
When walking and eating weren’t enough, we would visit vineyards and explore the depth of port wine and the effervescence of Vinho Verde (a Portuguese wine that originated in the historic Minho province in the far north of the country. Vinho Verde is not a grape varietal – the name literally means “green wine,” but translates as “young wine”. It may be red, white, or rosé and are usually consumed soon after bottling. They can also be lightly sparkling, a Late Harvest or even Brandy.) Grapes, vines, soil, family, friends, harvest and hard work all fueled by dreams and traditions. These in-depth experiences made each sip of wine all the more memorable and flavorful.
Walking along the rocky coast of Lagos, the only thing that could draw me away from the stunning secluded beaches was the smell of sautéed mussels paired with a glass or two of Vinho Verde de la casa (house made). Lagos’ soft trails, red dirt, deep blue seas, turquoise shallow waters, caves, arches, and cliffs make it one of the most enjoyable places I have ever explored. And since I was always curious to see the next beach, my exploratory walks always took longer than planned.
In Sintra, my adolescent nature was reawakened while visiting majestic castles and strolling through forests to find secluded ponds full of swans. I almost don’t want to tell anyone too much about it other than they need to just “GO” because the surprise and beauty of knowing that such places exist on our earth is quite charming.
We’re thrilled to be heading back to such an exquisite country on our Portugal Wine & Hike Adventure next year (May 20 – 26, 2019). Though our trip takes place in the spring and not the fall, I am certain that it will be no less extraordinary. Warm days, cool nights, clear skies and wildflowers will bless our walks while the wine I pray has remained exactly the same.
Rest assured that the best place to begin or end any season is of course on the cusp of the Atlantic in breathtaking Portugal.