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Pedalling Through Portugal

Pedalling Through Portugal
Written by Amy

This month, São Lourenço do Barrocal will launch three new cycling programmes that celebrate the best of the wild and unspoilt Alentejo region: gastronomy and wine; archaeology and culture; and traditional family experiences. Each of the three-day programmes will allow guests to explore all corners of the 780-hectare estate and the wider Alentejo region on and off road, thanks to 14 newly created GPS cycling routes and the addition of Pinarello road bicycles and Cube mountain bikes to the estate.

Vineyard Voyaging

Aimed at keen road cyclists, the Gastronomy & Wine programme begins with a 40km road cycle taking in the characteristic winding roads and charming ancient villages of the Alentejo on a state-of-the-art Pinarello road bicycle, before returning to the estate for a tour of São Lourenço do Barrocal’s winery and a tasting of its first-class, single-estate wines. Dinner in one of the two farm-to-table restaurants will follow, with dishes celebrating the traditional flavours of the Alentejo region and fresh, seasonal ingredients coming from São Lourenço do Barrocal’s organic vegetable garden. Day two will see guests set off on a 68km road cycle, stopping half way for lunch and a wine tasting at traditional winery Herdade do Esporão, to learn about their processes that range from techniques that date back to the origins of winemaking, including foot treading in marble winepresses, to more recent developments such as the use of concrete tulip-shaped tanks. Back at the estate, cyclists will ease aching muscles with a sports massage at the Susanne Kaufmann spa before a private stargazing session with knowledgeable astronomers from the Dark Sky Alqueva Observatory, spotting the Milky Way in startling clarity. The next morning, guests will try their hand at curating a traditional Alentejan dish, before departing with a complimentary hamper full of treats from the region, including a bottle from São Lourenço do Barrocal’s winery, olive oil produced on site and locally sourced honey.

 To book: The Alentejo Gastronomy & Wine programme starts from €2,766 for two people in a Winery Room including two nights’ accommodation and all aforementioned meals and activities.

Archaeological Explorations

Celebrating São Lourenço do Barrocal’s unique heritage, the Archeology & Culture programme – best suited to experienced off-road cyclists – begins with a guided tour of the estate with renowned archeologist Manuel Calado, who will introduce guests to the estate’s megalithic history, from the story of the natural granite outcrops dotted throughout the estate to the preserved megalithic tombs dating back up to seven thousand years. Guests will continue their voyage back in time as Manuel guides them through the story of the Phoenicians and Romans behind the arrival of wine in the region during a wine tasting on the estate, before dinner in the estate’s restaurant.  The next day, guests will explore the 20km ‘Menhirs Trail’ on a Cube mountain bike, reaching surrounding areas inaccessible by car thanks to their off-road, dirt track access. The trail crosses small villages, ancient dolmens and winding vineyards, culminating with an arduous steep incline up to the medieval village of Monsaraz where cyclists are rewarded with breathtaking views across the Alqueva Lake. After meandering back down to the estate and a gentle afternoon of recuperation at the swimming pool, guests will be transferred up to Monsaraz for dinner at charming local restaurant Sabores de Monsaraz, before returning to the estate for a private stargazing session. On the final morning, an ethnobotanical bike ride awaits, where guests will explore the 11.5km ‘Barrocal Trail’ with resident ethnobotanist, learning about the unique flora and fauna that occupy the estate, before a final picnic lunch by São Lourenço do Barrocal’s impressive menhir, the largest megalithic ceremonial standing stone on the Iberian Peninsula.

 To book: The Archeology & Culture programme starts from €2,257 for two people in a Winery Room including two nights’ accommodation and all aforementioned meals and activities.

Family Forays 

Catering to active families and cyclists of all levels looking to immerse themselves into nature, this programme begins with parents and children taking a Cube mountain-bike along the gentler ‘Birds Trail’, crossing paths with poplars, ducks, larks and other birds that visit the estate throughout the year, breaking half way for a snack under the shade of an ancient holm-oak. Dinner at the estate’s main restaurant is followed by a family stargazing session with star charts and cups of warming hot chocolate on hand for children, before retiring to a spacious two-bedroom cottage that offers privacy to children and parents alike. The next day will see families explore the shortest trail – the 4km Olive Trees Trail – on bike, foraging for natural clay, stones and fallen plants along the way. Children will then take part in a wild art class with archaeologist Manuel Calado, whilst parents unwind at the Susanne Kaufmann spa. A final dinner at the garden restaurant, Hortelão, allows children to pick their own ingredients from the organic garden to be delivered to the chefs, and the next morning families will take part in a baking class with São Lourenço do Barrocal’s pastry chef, learning to make traditional cookies, cakes or bread.

 To book: The Family Cycling programme starts from €3,385 for a family of four in a two-bedroom cottage including two nights’ accommodation and all aforementioned meals and activities.

www.barrocal.pt

 

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Amy

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