The Beira Interior wine region is located in the central part of Portugal. The region is divided into three subregions – the Castelo Rodrigo, Pinhel and Cova de Beira. Some of the highest mountains in Portugal creates unique landscapes of the region. In recent times the Beira Interior has grown rapidly, and the number of wine produces has increased dramatically. The unique wine production methods and the high quality of the wines have made the Beira Interior one of the most well-respected wine regions of Portugal. Visit the Beira Interior wine region for excellent wines, exquisite natural beauty and the best of Portuguese local cuisine.
The wines of the Beira Interior are the perfect treat for both wine connoisseurs and casual wine drinkers. The flavours of the wines of this region are influenced by the cold mountain winters. This climate produces excellent wines that are fresh and aromatic and which should not be missed.
What you Should Know about Beira Interor Wine Region
The history of winemaking in the region stretches as far back as when the Portuguese nation was founded. The Beira Interior wine region begins in the town of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo and stretches up towards the Spanish border and the Serra da Estrela mountains. The Beira Interior wine designation area was established in 1999. The region is divided into three subregions. These are Pinhel and Castel Rodrigo which are extremely mountainous and Cova da Beira which is located in the countryside. In this region, the grapes ripen better and faster than in the vineyards that are planted on the slopes of the mountains.
The Beira Interior region produces a range of white, red and rose wines. More recently the region has seen an increase in the production of sparkling wine. The high quality of the Beira wines is thanks to the wide range of grape varietals grown in the region. This is also allowed for the discovery of new flavours of Portuguese wines. Over the last few years, the Beira region has seen a dramatic increase in the number of wine producers in the area. As a result of this, the region is now one of the most well-respected wine regions of Portugal. It has also gained international praise for the excellent quality of the wines produced.
Red Varieties: Bastardo, Marufo, Rufete, Touriga Nacional, Aragonez, Alfrocheiro, Trincadeira, Touriga France.
White Varieties: Arinto, Fonte Cal, Malvasia Fina, Siria, Pernao Pires
What to Expect from Beira Interior Wines
Hearty red wines and fresh, crisp whites
The wines of the Beira Interior region are made using only the best of local grape varietals. Occasionally, these grapes are combined with international grape varietals to complement their flavour. The most commonly used international grape varietals are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. The red wines of the Beira Interior region can be described as floral and herby.
In the production of white wine, the most commonly used grape varietal is the Fonte Cal. This grape is exclusive to the Beira Interior region and is considered a local treasure. The Beira white wines are rich, which a good level of acidity. They are lovely when still young, but also become more complex with age. The Fonte Cal varietal is often combined with other local Portuguese varietals. Certain winemakers in the region also combine the Fonte Cal with international varietals such as Riesling and Chardonnay.
In recent times, the Beira Interior wine region has also begun to produce excellent rose and sparkling wines.
Wineries to Visit
Beira Serra Vinhos
The Beira Serra Vinhos was established in 1956. This wine cooperative produces wines using only natural grapes. These grapes are hand-picked from high altitude vines from the surrounding mountain regions. Beira Serra Vinhos is well known in Portugal and internationally for their excellent white and sparkling wines made using Siria, Fonte Cal, Malvasia and Arinto grapes.
The Quinta Dos Termos is a family-run winery and estate close to the Spanish border in the Beira Interior region. This winery has been run by the Carvalho family since 1945. The vineyards of the Quinta Dos Termos are located at high altitudes. The wines are considered some of the best in the Beira region.
The town of Castelo Branco was once the capital of the Beira region. This beautiful town is situated just a short distance from the Spanish border. For a relatively small town, there is plenty to do and see in Castelo Branco. Visitors should begin their tour of Castelo Branco at the Church of Sao Muguel and from here spend time at the Francisco Tavares Proenca Junior Museum. The museum is located inside the Bishop’s Palace where time spent in the gardens should not be missed. These magnificent gardens are deigned in the baroque style and boast beautiful lakes, waterfalls and fountains. After a day spent exploring the town, take a dip in the beach tidal pool as the perfect end to a summer day.
Guarda – The Village of the Medieval Castle
The village of Guarda is located within the Serra da Estrela mountain range. This town is extremely unique as it is built around an old medieval castle. The name of this village relates to its previous role of guarding Portugal. The village was given this role thanks to its proximity to the border of Portugal and Spain. Guarda is filled with old fortifications. It is also the highest village in Portugal as it sits over 1000 meters above sea level. Visitors to Guarda should not miss the Guarda Cathedral, the city defensive walls, the Guarda Castle, the Praca Luis de Camoes, the Museu da Guarda and the Old Centre.
Hidden Gem – Explore the Beira Alta Planalto
The Beira Alta Planalto is a flat table like areas of land surrounded by ancient villages and wild landscapes. This area is known for its wild and rugged natural environment. The harsh environment has meant that farming and human development has been very difficult in this region and so it is relatively wild and untouched. Veer off the beaten track and explore the sites of the Beira Alta Planalto. Do not miss the chance to visit the Castelo Rodrigo, the Castelo Bom, and the Jewish settlement of Trancoso.
The Land of Extremes
Explore natural places of Beira Interior
The Beira Interior wine region is a land of extremes. From high mountain peaks to flowing rivers in deep valleys – the natural environment is breathtaking at every turn. Lose yourself in the never-ending natural beauty of this magnificent wine region.
Serra da Estrela Natural Park
The Serra da Estrela Natural Park is the oldest protected area in Portugal. It is also the largest as it covers 888 square kilometres of mountainous land. The heart of the Serra da Estrela Natural Park I the Torre which rise to 1993m high. This is Portugal’s highest peak and is truly a sight to behold. A trip through the park takes one through a range of scenes. These scenes including high peaks, ice lakes, granite peaks and wooden valleys. Inside the park, there is a range of restaurants and activities for all visitors to enjoy.
Monumento Natural Portas de Rodao
A place of wild beauty
The Portas de Rodao is a geographical phenomenon in the Beira Interior region. The Portas de Rodao was named a natural monument in 2009. The landscape of the region is characterised by beautiful fauna and flora including owls, vultures and eagles. One of the main attractions inside the Portas de Rodao is the Tagus River. In this area, the river is quite narrow and is bordered by steep cliffs. The Portas de Rodao can be easily reached by road. Along the way, stop and enjoy the Castle of Rodao and enjoy the views of the surrounding areas.
What to Eat
The cuisine of the Beira Interior wine region is as excellent as its wines. Local Beira food is made mainly with meat and fish. It is not uncommon to find meats such as wild boar, lamb, goat, duck and rabbit on local menus. This is a gastronomically unique region that provides something new and delicious for all who visit.
Queijo Serra da Estrela – One of the Oldest Cheeses of Portugal
Queijo Serra da Estrela is a cheese that is native to the Serra da Estrela region. This cheese is semi soft and is made from sheep milk. The milk comes only from the Bordaleira Serra da Estrela and Churra Mondgegueira sheep breeds. These sheep are milked by hand. After this, the sheep milk is heated, and thistle extract is added to begin the curdling process. Once the curd is formed it is shaped into cheeses which are left to mature. Queijo Serra da Estrela is Portugal’s oldest food product. This cheese is so excellent that is has now gained international acclaim. Relax in the Beira Interior region and enjoy your Queijo Serra da Estrela as an appetizer or dessert with some excellent local wines.
Chanfana – Portuguese Meat Stew
Chanfana is a traditional Portuguese stew. This stew is made with goat or lamb meat an baked in a traditional clay pot. To make the stew, the meat is placed in the pot and flavoured with piri piri, paprika, bay leaves and garlic. The seasoned meat is then covered with red wine and cooked for hours until the meat is soft and tender. This delicious stew is best enjoyed with boiled potatoes and a hearty red Beira wine.