Cycling in the green wine region of Northern Portugal
green wine vineyards in Portugal

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Once upon a time, there was a girl who always wanted to discover new places and see the hidden treasures of this beautiful county, called Portugal. Yes, that’s me! When I have a long weekend with days off, I always try to plan a little tour. This time I was cycling in the territory of the “Vinho Verde”, visited a nice winery and had a phenomenal meal in a small village in the mountains in Northern Portugal. Oh yeah, and visited a calm river side beach to 🙂 Let’s see the story of this fantastic day! My weekend mini travels normally are spent in the saddle of my bike and in places where I have never been before. Also, where I can combine the challenge with wonderful sceneries, and of course where I can try delicious foods to recharge my energy. 

“2019.09.07 Update: I have just received the photos of the Quinta do Tapadinho winery, which we have visited! Scroll to the end of the post to check out the pictures, if you have red the article already! If not, you will end up anyway at the end of this blog post 🙂  Thank you! – András”

I love Porto and I already had the pleasure to ride my bike in the Douro valley to. I was always fascinated by this region, but now I wanted to look for new place. There are so many hidden gems in Northern Portugal. Therefore, I decided to ride in my other favourite wine region, the Bastos “Vinho Verde” region. This wine is less known outside of Portugal, but you may have heard about it as green wine.

For anyone, who hasn’t tried it before and loves a refreshing, light wine, it is recommended to try. It is the best summer wine in my opinion, which is just slightly sparkling and it pairs well with a good fish food dish.

The word “green” does not refer to the color, as it exists white, red and rose. There are more theory about the given name: 

  • One of it is, that the weather condition here in Northern Portugal is Mediterranean climate with lots of rain. A lot is relative, it means more than in the south in this case. This region is the greenest area in Portugal.

 

  • Another theory is that the word “green” refers to a young, “immature” wine. This type of wine can be consumed without aging in barrels. The wine is being released in 3-6 month after the grapes were harvested. That makes the wine light and fresh.

 

  • The third theory what is the most likely, is that the lands always been passed from parents to the children, which was divided among them. They tried to grow grapes as much as they could. But it was not easy as the area was smaller and smaller. The only results were to grow the wine in high. The grapes ripen hardly on the bottom and they harvested early in time. This indicates also to the youthfulness.

Returning to my bike trip story, we (me and my husband) tried to look for an unknown place for us. We found Cabaceira de Basto, where we have never been before. The plan was to make a round trip from this city up to the top of the hills, eat something there and follow the route down to a Quinta (the wineries are called “Quinta” in Portugal, the word actually means farm) where the owner produces vinho verde wine.

Nearly at the end of the loop, of course we had to take a dip in a river beach. We love this kind of beaches. Because the Atlantic Ocean here in the north is cold, and we like to go into the water as well, not just relaxing on the beach in the sand.

We were excited to make this bike trip. The plan was a 51km ride with 1000m+ of positive elevation.

As I did not have any opportunity to ride the bike together with my hubby since our child was born (Living abroad without any family members nearby us, where we could leave our son for a whole day, forced us to adapt our life. Full day bike touring just for the two of us wasn’t an option ever since. But we do other cool outdoor activities the three of us, so no probs)

We started to ride at the lowest point of the loop, in Arco De Baúlhe, therefore immediately we had to pedal uphill even until Cabaceiras de Basto. Lovely city with a fabulous garden in front of the church. There are a few coffee bars and pastry shops around the square to refresh with some drinks, or have a coffee and to relax a bit.

Did you know that the Portuguese love coffee? Doesn’t matter the time, it can be in the afternoon or even in the evening, they drink coffee practically at any time of the day.

the church of Cabeceiras De Basto, Portugal
The main square and the church in Cabeceiras De Basto

After leaving the city we cycled more into the country side. It was so silent and calm. We only saw a few houses along the way. I thought that actually no one lives here! Only half a dozen cars passed by us, with Dutch license plates.

Then we met a fellow cyclist, who stopped to talk with us. He told us that most of the people from this area immigrated to the Netherlands. They come back normally for a long holiday during the summer.

The climb towards our lunch destination was tough, I have to admit.

I was on my limit, barely could breathe, but I just pushed the pedals as hard as I could! During my personal fight with the mountains, I was of course looking around quite a few times. The scenery was marvelous. It remembered me constantly why I love Portugal! Thats why I ride, Thats the reason why I suffer to see such a nice place like this!

Just before noon we have reached the top. There is a famous restaurant in Moscoso (imagine a village with 12 houses between the mountains). But not a long time ago, another restaurant opened next to the famous one. We had the feeling that we should try the new one.

Who opens a small restaurant next to a famous one? Only those who know or do something special, as far as I can see. And yes, they know something special! Worth eating there, absolutely! The veal dish was amazing, as well as the red “vinho verde” wine. At the end of the meal we paid so less, that my husband actually asked, if they have made the counts well or not.

cyclist eating a rich Portuguese dish
I was so hungry 🙂

After this royal lunch, it was hard to think about the fact, that we are only half way of our journey. I would rather stood there all afternoon. In the back of the restaurant, we rested a bit and almost felt asleep. The landscape was not a dream, it was real and fantastic!

After half an hour relaxing, we decided to continue our trip, as we were curious about the Quinta and the rest of the route.

We still had to climb a bit after leaving Moscoso, but then the well-deserved downhill part came. We were just rolling and rolling downwards. It felt so good after all that climbing! We had to stop for a drink in another coffee bar and let the breaks cool down.

I like the ambient of the small villages. People always stare us, like we were some kind of UFOs, wondering “Who are they, what do they want?”. We can read it from their faces. There is always the one person who has the most courage, and starts a conversation with us. After the first few words in Portuguese (and everyone around us realizes, that we aren’t UFOs after all), the smiles return to the faces. This fact makes me so happy, the curiosity and friendliness of the locals. Such kind people everywhere!

Portuguese are really social. They hardly stay at home, instead they go out, and drink a coffee or a beer together. I like this attitude much. (As it is different in Hungary. With time, the people start to close the door and they do not go out to meet that much with others…)

After a little more ride, we arrived to the Quinta do Tapadinho. Oh my Gosh, such a nice place, a little hidden paradise!

What a wonderful house built from the huge granite blocks and the scenery around it was breathtaking! After they will finish the pool, I am looking forward to spend some holidays here in every year. The peacefulness what it transmitted when I was walking around in the vineyard and in the gardens, cannot be described. It has to be felt! This is exactly what people need (speaking for ourselves at least).

To relax, and to recharge the body and the soul. You can see from the window the Tamega River flowing by the wines below. The river bed is going to be cleaned soon, and the riverbank remodeled a little bit. Since this part of the river is for recreational fishing. After all the work is done, it will be even more beautiful for sure.

Green wine production farm in Northern Portugal
Quanta do Tapadinho – A winery by the Tamega River producing some excelent green wine

After our visit at the vineyard, we continued with the last bit of our journey. We didn’t cycled much though, since there was a river side beach just nearby, which we had to check out.

As you know, we love these hidden beaches around Northern Portugal, we had to register one more on our map. This time I passed on the swimming, but András went for a dip. Just a few locals were hanging out here, and of course there is a coffee bar so you can refresh the body from the inside to 🙂

From this point, I was completely satisfied with all of this behind me to be honest. I do not remember much from the little ride after this part. The next point what I remember was, that we arrived back to the car and I was happy and tired. Tired, but in the right way, and it felt ok!

What else do we need more, when we are on holiday? For me, nothing else than this place, my husband and my son. The rest of the family members and friends can join of course, to have fun together. After all, these experiences should be shared, to get the most out of them! This is an enjoyable place. It is marked on my map now, and I will return in the near future definitely!

2019.09.07. Update: Thanks for sending me these great photos about your winery Mr. António and Mr. Frederico, I am positive that we will meet again soon! Oh yeah, and we adore your wine! Best wishes!

 

 

 

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Barbara
Harminchárom éves könnyűipari mérnök vagyok, jelenleg csomagolási mérnökként dolgozom. Mindig is vonzódtam a bringázáshoz, de igazán akkor szerettem meg, amikor férjem András, megmutatta, hogy mennyivel érdekesebb és különlegesebb élmény felfedezni az új helyeket két keréken. Közös kerékpár túráink alkalmával szerencsénk volt együtt bringázni több országban is már, rengeteg szép helyet jártunk be mind Magyarországon is és Portugáliában is. Cégünk azzal a céllal jött létre, hogy ezeket a felejthetetlen élményeket megosszuk másokkal is.

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