Vale do Tábua Wine & Tapas, winner of the 2022 Best Of Wine Tourism award in the Wine Restaurants category, reflects a life story, marked by an entrepreneurial spirit and a permanent desire to innovate. These are qualities that have shaped a family project, designed with great care and implemented with great enthusiasm.
A curious love story has united Nazaré and António Pereira for life and along a unique business path covering various sectors. From civil construction to restaurants and hotels, from wine production to agro-livestock. The hallmark of the restaurant is it produces its own ingredients.
António Pereira, connected to civil construction from a very young age, is the perfect portrait of a true self-made-man. That description fits him perfectly: he moved out from under his father’s wing, without bitterness, and left Trás-os-Montes for the Algarve. There, he innovated from the outset, being a pioneer in Portugal in the application of sprayed mortar. He reached highs of 180 tons of plaster a month, never forgetting the teachings of his father, from whom he learnt everything, as he himself states.
His passion for wine was another of his father’s legacies, enhanced by the empiricism of traditional production, refined over the years and from one grape harvest to the next.
He made sure he didn’t miss the chance to take on the running of a restaurant in Pinhão, when the opportunity presented itself in a tendering procedure. Initial dissension within the company set up for the purpose was soon overcome, and he stood by his wife, Nazaré Pereira, ready to start a new business challenge.
António Pereira already produced white wine at that time, for personal consumption, but requests from friends who came to Pinhão ended up generating a new business.
His wife’s passion for cooking was the ideal recipe to turn Vale do Tábua Wine & Tapas into a success.
It’s a place with a magnificent location – undoubtedly one of the best terraces in the Douro, two steps away from the river. The senses are left in ecstasy from contemplating the vineyards painted in various colours after the grape harvest celebration, like suspended Babylonian gardens.
The scenery is brutal, with the gaze wandering down the bend of the river, its mirrored waters reflecting “the terraces that are the footsteps of titanic men climbing the slopes”, as described by the incomparable Portuguese writer Miguel Torga.
It is the perfect scene to frame the restaurant area where tables and the wine cellar in the background encourage the sharing of snacks and invite you to taste wines.
In the kitchen, which is small in size, where Nazaré Pereira works with skill and great commitment, the frenzy is constant and the rhythm can be infernal in the elaboration of varied and appealing petiscos (Portuguese version of tapas), which call for perfect pairings.
Vale do Tábua has 16 wines in its portfolio, including whites and reds, rosés and sparkling wines, which reflect the characteristics of the Douro.
The production of all the wines with the traditional grape varieties of the region is done according to the most traditional methods, including foot treading at night and in a cellar that has been ingeniously designed, which reflects the entrepreneurial spirit and technical capacity of an experienced builder.
From the aforementioned winery, located in Alijó, 20 thousand bottles of Vale da Tábua are produced each year. The wines’ label is a stylisation of the Douro terraces. Still wines are aged in the cellar, next to the private wine cellar which holds around 5,000 bottles.
It is the portrait of the passion for wine of this producer, tireless in experimenting with new profiles, which are subject to the approval of his wife, Nazaré. She is an excellent taster of choice, who is not crazy about wine, but nurtures an unusual passion for painting, which helps to relieve the tension generated by the kitchen of Vale do Tábua Wine & Tapas.
The list of snacks, some traditional, others more innovative, presents a particularity: they are all made only with ingredients from the restaurant’s own farm. From sausages to meats, eggs to honey, mushrooms to vegetables and, obviously, wines, the list is vast. It also includes more substantial dishes, and always invites you to savour a good wine. Wine can be served by the glass and the menu has high quality examples, in a healthy coexistence with the Vale do Tábua wines, “made with affection”, in the image of the entrepreneurial couple. The project implemented by that couple in the Douro region, with undeniable passion and at the cost of much hard work and sacrifice, is as unique as it is surprising.
It has been almost a decade now. In the territory of a wine without borders.
Vale do Tábua: Website
Text by António Catarino
Photos by Vale do Tábua