Today, we begin a series about some of our favorite places for wine in Portugal. We decided to call it “Wineries Near Me”, despite their location: they can be far, geographically, from Lisbon, but always close to our hearts and souls. And their wines star in our Portuguese Wines Tasting. For now, there is no need to travel very far from the capital, just short of an hour. With you, Wineries Near Me: Casal de Santa Maria.
People say that dreams are for the young. We believe dreams are for the ones that dare to dream, despite their age. And Casal de Santa Maria is one of the best examples that we know. In 2007, a 96 years old man decided to produce wine, for the first time in is long, long life. Is name was Bodo von Bruemmer and he was known as “The Baron”.
Like so many big dreamers, The Baron faced skepticism. He was too old, they said. The estate was not prepared to receive new vines, they said. The location, facing the Atlantic and the cold and humid microclimate of Sintra would never allow the production of great wines, they said. But still, the Baron kept chasing his dream and the Casal de Santa Maria winery was born.
He dreamed a dream
The Casal de Santa Maria estate, in Colares, dates back to the XVIII century. Its main buildings survived the Big Lisbon Earthquake of 1755. However, and besides the region being famous for its wine, by 1903, no vineyards were left. The Baron Von Bruemmer bought the propriety in 1962 and, for the next three decades, used it to raise Arab purebred horses.
In 2007, the Baron was well into is 90’s and had survived several serious health scares. So, no one was expecting that a dream he had one night would become a reality. The dream was producing some of the best wines in the world. And the first vines were planted only three weeks later. Also, no one believed that Von Bruemmer would live to see the first bottles, but the fact is that he did just that, having passed away in 2016, at 105 years old!
Today, the Casal de Santa Maria still belongs to the Von Bruemmer family. The wine production is not massive and that adds to its charm. In recent years, the estate has been opened to visitors and offers several options of tours and tastings. One of our favorite ways of discovering this magnificent estate is during a Private Sintra Tour. There is no better way to complement all the palaces and the landscape sightseeing than to stop for a bit, roam the vineyards, relax and taste some wines.
The westernmost vineyards in Continental Europe
In a straight line, the vineyards are a few hundreds of meters from the Atlantic and the Cabo da Roca, the westernmost geographical point of Continental Europe. Which makes not only Casal de Santa Maria vineyards the westernmost in Continental Europe, but also, and most importantly, defines the profile of its nectars.
On the opposite side of the estate, we have the Sintra mountain. The result of both dominant landscapes? The well known microclimate of the Colares region, with cooler nights than the Portuguese average, frequent foggy days – even in the Summer – and the ever present Ocean Breeze.
The soils in the area are clay loam, with large granitic outcrops. And, specifically in the Casal de Santa Maria, they are made richer by the organic matter from the Arabian Horse Stud Farm, operated by the Baron until the 1980’s.
A litte salt on your glass?
When it comes to the type of grapes that you can find on the vineyards, the word is variety. The Portuguese Alvarinho, Touriga Nacional, Arinto or Malvasia grow allonside the international Chardonnay, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Noir.
The Casal de Santa Maria wines are reminiscent of the Sea, very aromatic, fresh, mineral, elegant, well-balanced, and with the uniqueness of having strong salty notes. And for that we should thank the Atlantic and its predominant north winds! These wines have a great potential for aging and are the ultimate expression of the Serra de Sintra and Colares terroirs.