A Region with History

The history of wine in Portugal begins in the region of the Algarve

As a wine-producing region, the Algarve boasts a long-standing tradition dating back to the time of the Phoenicians and Greeks. Between the 8th and 6th centuries BC, these civilizations introduced winemaking to the region through both trade and cultivation. 

Between the 2nd century BC and the 5th century AD, the Algarve fell under Roman occupation, becoming integrated into the province of Lusitania. This integration into the Roman Empire fostered the development of wine production and trade, leading to exports to various parts of the empire. Algarve wine gained renown for its quality and variety, esteemed by emperors and high society figures in Rome as a premium product. 

Following the invasion of the Moors in the 8th century, the culture of viticulture and winemaking experienced a decline due to religious restrictions on alcohol consumption. Nonetheless, the Moors introduced new agricultural techniques, such as irrigation, crucial for wine production in arid regions, and introduced new grape varieties that enriched Algarve viticulture. 

The Christian reconquest in the 13th century saw a resurgence of wine culture in the Algarve, with wine once again becoming an essential element in nutrition, health, and religion. It was exported to various European countries, notably England, primarily used in commercial exchanges for textiles, skins, cereals, and other commodities. 

Between the 15th and 17th centuries, Algarve wine served to supply Portuguese caravels on maritime exploration voyages, as it was less prone to spoilage than water. It also played a crucial role in trade with African and Asian countries. 

In the 18th century, the Algarve experienced a renaissance in wine production, attributed to the expansion of cultivation areas and advancements in production techniques. Algarve wine gained recognition as one of the country’s finest, competing with wines from the Douro and Dão regions. 

However, in the 19th century, the region faced various crises affecting wine production. French invasions caused looting and destruction in rural properties, while the phylloxera epidemic devastated vineyards across Europe, including the Algarve. Additionally, competition from foreign wines entering the Portuguese market at lower prices, coupled with the migration of rural workers seeking better living conditions, led to a decline in wine production in the region. 

In the latter half of the 20th century, a revitalization of vineyard and wine culture occurred in the Algarve, spearheaded by producers who invested in the recovery of indigenous grape varieties and modernized production techniques. Today, the Algarve boasts four Controlled Designations of Origin (DOC): Lagos, Portimão, Lagoa, and Tavira, alongside control and certification of wines with IG – Geographical Indication Algarve. Algarve wines have once again gained recognition, winning numerous national and international awards for their quality and originality. 

Presently, the Algarve stands as a dynamic wine-producing region, offering a diverse range of white, red, rosé, sparkling, and fortified wines. Algarve wine epitomizes excellence, reflecting the region’s history, culture, and identity.