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The region of Baião is within the demarcated region of Vinhos Verdes. The wines produced here belong to this region, which is also a transition area, with the river Douro nearby and further on is the border with the Douro region. The most typical wines of the area have as base two grape varieties that find this and ideal territory to show their best: Avesso and Azal.
It is in this region, between Baião and Santa Marinha do Zêzere, that is located Quinta da Covela, more precisely in S. Tomé de Covelas, just after Tormes, a place celebrated by Eça de Queiroz, in his novel “A Cidade e as Serras”.
The granite is everywhere, in the buildings, in the walls, in the enormous cliffs and in the grounds. The estate dates back to the 16th century and was owned by the Portuguese filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira.
After passing into other hands and beginning to produce wines, it was acquired by two foreign investors, who not only brought back the winemaker Rui Cunha, a great connoisseur of the vineyards and their grape varieties, but also increased wine production. There are 49 hectares of land, with a leafy forest on one side, about 18 of which are vineyards, with several grape varieties of the region and others less common. Nevertheless, they have been producing wines with remarkable success, not only in our country but also all over the world.
The quinta has huge fruit trees, orange trees, olive trees, peach trees and cherry trees, among many others, and a very well-tended vegetable garden. In addition, a bucolic stream runs through the estate and even feeds a small watermill, which was very well restored. At the highest part of the quinta there is a viewing point, where one can have some wine tastings or even picnics. When it comes to food, Diana Oliveira is the one who prepares simple but tasty meals with many of the estate's products, especially the vegetables from the vegetable garden and the various fruits available. The daily meals for the estate’s staff are sometimes shared with importers and guests they welcome throughout the year and who make everyone feel at home. The meals can be served on the first floor room or, weather permitting, on the delightful stone terrace, covered in greenery, with ample views overlooking part of the quinta.
It is also one of the places where wine tastings are held, both for professionals and for tourists who come here more and more, in search of what is good and genuine. In another building is the shop, with a wide range of Covela products, which tourists will invariably buy after tasting and seeing their quality. The outdoor seating adjacent to the shop is another of the places where events are held, showing another perspective of the quinta’s enormous beauty. There is still another building where the wine cellar is, with a high ceiling and where the wines are ageing and waiting for their time to be bottled.
It is a small route between this labyrinth of these buildings filled with history, which remind us of Covela’s antiquity, which can (and should) be complemented by beautiful walks through the property. Getting to Covela by car, we pass by Baião and then follow the road that leads to Tormes, where Eça de Queiroz Foundation is located, and after that is Covela. Getting by train, on the line that departs from Porto and heads to Régua, getting off at the stop of Caldas de Aregos, then we take a taxi that in 10 minutes arrives in Covela.
It will be difficult for you to go back home because you will want to stay there, enjoying all that beauty full of tranquillity...
LIMA SMITH Lda.
Quinta de Covela,
S. Tomé de Covelas
Text by José Silva and Photos by Quinta da Covela