Where to play golf in Portugal’s famous wine regions?

By: May 1, 2019

Recently, I had to realize that with my friends and family members, we talk quite a lot about the great Portuguese wines. These discussions usually start with mentioning the wine region of Porto or Madeira.

Soon I understood that Portugal is offering much more, and we can combine our Portuguese golf holidays with tasting local wines in various parts of the country.

Well, what and where are they… exactly? Let’s discover how we can combine golf & wine in Portugal!

What makes the Portuguese wine culture unique is that it was developed in relative isolation. As a result of it, we can find many grape varieties that don’t grow anywhere else in the world. Actually, we can find over 250 indigenous varieties.

There are more and more golf resorts and clubs are offering to combine golf and wine experience together around the world (e.g. PGA Catalunya Resort, Royal Bled Golf Club, Argentario Golf Resort & Spa Toscana, CordeValle, Verdura Resort, etc.).

This is not a big surprise as we understand enotourism (=travel specifically aimed towards wine regions) is gaining momentum. Enotourism can help wine lovers to discover really unique wines that Portugal can offer a lot.

Another rising trend is vegan wines. What makes a wine vegan may add to the debate. Probably, you have already heard of ‘organic’ and‘biodynamic’ wines that are also very popular in these days.

Just to understand the business potential of wine tourism, we can find in the latest UNWTO report that out of 56.7 million tourists 5 million chose Spain just because its food & wine offers. This generated over 5 billion revenue for the country in 2018.

The very same UNWTO report claims that in Europe, the primary demand for food and wine travel represents 600.000 trips each year. In Portugal alone, the wine sector now represents circa 17% of the total output of the agricultural sector, reaching 900 million Euros per year. Portugal has the 2nd largest number of certified products in Europe.

portugal wine regions map
Source: Wines of Portugal

The TOP3 motivations of wine tourists are:

  1. Tasting different wines;
  2. Learning about wine varieties & wine making;
  3. Having fun with friends & romance with partner.

This does not mean that health and culture are less important to wine tourists. Ask such golf travel agencies like Tee Times Golf Agency to help you to discover not just the country’s golf offers, but also its wine regions and offers.

Algarve wine region & golf resorts

Just in the Algarve region, we can find 4 DOCs (Denomination of Controlled Origin): Lagos, Portimão, Lagoa and Tavira. In Portugal, there are 31 DOCs and 14 Vinho Regional (IGP).

These regional wine (“vinho regional”) areas which have less strict rules (vs DOCs) for controlling which types of grapes are used as well as maximum vine yields. 

Some people say that the best wines tend to be the Vinho Regional Algarve. Algarve whites, as well as rosés, can be fresh and appealing, reds aromatic and elegant. Some of the Algarve wines received high recognition and award in 2018.

The AlgarveWine Commission (CVA, in Portuguese) understood the potential in wine tourism and now they are helping local producers to market themselves more effectively (e.g. they created a map of the Algarve Wine Region).

If you are staying in one of these golf resorts (see the list below) near Lagos or Portimão, then ask your golf travel agency or the concierge to show you the local vineyards:

If you are staying in Monte Rei Golf & Country Club, Castro Marim Golf & Country Club, Salgados Golf Course, or Benamor Golf Club then you can easily enjoy the wines of the nearest Lagoa and Tavira DOCs.

Near Morgado Golf & Country Club and Monchique, you will find the  Rota das Destilarias (Distilleries Route) and the Casa do Medronho (House of Medronho) in Marmelete (a village). Don’t miss them!

Do you know that the British pop star Sir Cliff Richard, owns a wine estate the Adega do Cantor – “The Winery of the Singer” in the Algarve?

wine regions -algarve-regions-with-designation-of-origin
Source: Tee Times Golf Agency

Lisbon wine region & golf resorts and clubs

West and north of the city of Lisbon, is known as the Lisbon wine region (formerly known as Estremadura; until 2008). If you booked your golf holiday in Praia D’el Rey, Royal Óbidos Spa & Golf Resort, Penha Longa Resort, Oitavos Dunes, Montado Hotel & Golf Resort, Guardian Bom Sucesso Golf you will find very close to you 9 separate DOCs.

The Vinho Regional Lisboa area has more DOCs than any other Vinho Regional area of Portugal. In case you have got limited time but want to taste as many varieties of wine, then this will be your ideal place.

In case you are staying in the Troia Resort (designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr.) you won’t have to give up your desire to taste great local wines (e.g. Moscatel de Setúbal; a wine made primarily from Muscat de Alexandria.).

There are two types of fortified wines with Denomination of Origin of Setúbal (Setúbal DO) designation:

  • the production with white varietals, where the Moscatel de Setúbal grape is required in at least 67% or more of the blend, and
  • the production with red varietals where at least 67% or more of the Moscatel Roxo (Purple Moscatel) grape is required as well in the blend.

I recommend visiting the wine cellar Herdade da Comporta and the wine cellars of Azeitão.

Porto wine region & golf resorts and clubs

When people are thinking about golf holidays and trips in Portugal, they usually focus on the Algarve or the Lisbon region.

However, it is a big mistake to neglect the golf courses of the Porto region. It is so simple to get to Porto since there are many direct flights from many major European cities!

A study found in 2017 that tourists are coming to this region mainly (84%) for gastronomy experience.

Probably the most famous Portuguese wine region is the award-winning Douro Valley. The entire region (‘Douro Vinhateiro’) is a UNESCO world heritage site. If you want to discover this region, then the nearest golf resort is the award-winning Vidago Palace.

The Vidago Palace won the IAGTO Sustainability Awards in 2018. They are GEO Certified as well.

Vidago Palace golf course from new angle

Another important wine region in North Portugal is the “Vinho Verde”. It is in the North-West of Portugal close to the Spanish border. The region is the biggest wine-producing region of Portugal.

The light, fresh, and aromatic Vinho Verde suits all kinds of occasions. Vinho Verde is great with salads, fish, seafood, vegetable dishes, citrus sauces, and Asian foods.

Wine regions the Douro Valley

The nearest golf club in the Vinho Verde region is the links course Estela Golf Club.

A friend of my mine told me that this golf course is not for those who have difficulties with the driver!

If we are already in the north, then we should not forget to visit Royal Oporto Golf Club (since 1890) is the 3rd oldest golf club in continental Europe after Pau and Antwerp.

Last, but not least, the wine region of Madeira is really interesting. The vine root louse phylloxera arrived on Madeira in the late 19th century and killed the vines. European varieties have been planted since, but many americano vines remain.

Final recommendation:Essência do Vinho

If you are really interested in the Portuguese wines and wine regions, then I can strongly recommend following the Essência do Vinho (since 2004) wine competition. More than 3,000 wines from 400 producers are competing from all over Portugal. Check out here the finalist of this year’s competition.

This article is brought to you by Tee Times Golf Agency.