TripWix Douro Valley Ambassador and head winemaker at Quinta do Crasto.
Picture this scene: A highly polished antique mahogany dining table, ambient lighting, walls decked with family oil paintings, silver chafing dishes emitting delicious aromas and multiple opened bottles of wine sitting on the gleaming sideboard – just waiting for the perfect pairing.
This was a recent dinner with Manuel Lobo in the welcoming dining room at Quinta do Crasto where he is not only the head winemaker but a delightful host, raconteur and genuine easy-going country gentlemen.
Manuel has a job that most of us can only dream of: sampling delicious wines every day – and all in the line of duty! So, I asked him what a typical day would be like for him.
6 am – “A quick workout in the gym, then I get to enjoy taking my 3 kids to school.”
“The morning is the perfect time to taste the fruit on the vines, the air is fresher and cooler and the aromas are cleaner and more lively. I have more energy in the morning so this is the perfect moment of the day to walk the vineyards and conduct my technical tastings.”
“When I am at the vineyard, I can taste 100 or so wines in the mornings. To do this, I like to be alone in the tasting room and, depending on my mood and the type of wine I am trying, I like to play different types of music. The smell and the taste are what I’m trying – so if I am testing an elegant wine which will be served at fine dinners, I will opt for classical sounds. And, if I’m sampling lively, light wines then I’ll put on some pop. The music helps me find the energy the wines transmit.”
“Not many days pass at Quinta do Crasto without visitors for lunch – served as often as possible on the terrace overlooking the magnificent Douro River and the hillside vines. I usually host wine journalists, distributors or clients.”
“It’s always a wonderful time of the day for me as we have a fantastic atmosphere, the perfect crystal, phenomenal views, vegetables from our own garden and, of course, if the winemaker is good…” (Manuel adds – tongue-in-cheek) “great wines!”
“Boring, but very necessary…emails, planning, meetings etc”.
“Are for the family.”
“That is a typical day unless I’m traveling to meet distributors and other winemakers or if it’s harvest time.”
Harvest Time: the accumulation of a year’s work
“During harvest time, a day typically lasts 24 hrs and harvest lasts about a month. So, as you can imagine, it’s very challenging – but definitely the most rewarding time for me.”
“Teresa, my wife and co-TRIPWIX Ambassador for the Douro Area, and my kids spend lots of time at the vineyard during the harvest and it’s wonderful to watch the kids playing between the rows of vines.”
“Harvest is the accumulation of the year’s work. My passion is for planting the vineyard, watching it grow, making use of the ripe fruit and creating something that people will enjoy. The feedback from people who drink my wine is what makes it all worthwhile. The best is to see that a wine made by me can give pleasure to others.”
“The month of September is a wonderful time to visit. To be part of the wine-making process is very special and visitors are encouraged to come help us tread the grapes by foot. Foot treading is a lot of fun and we have had a number of famous feet come to our aid over the years!”
“I work in a very special place which I love to share with others. I like to say that the Douro Valley is like a puzzle – there are so many different pieces: the varying altitudes, the different types of terrain, the ever-changing climate, diverse north, south, east and west exposures… Every year it changes – it’s up to me to put the right pieces in the right places to create the best wines.”
“When all is said and done, the best thing in the world is to jump into our pool at the end of the day with my kids and look at the view!”
Let Manuel and Teresa introduce you to “their” Douro Valley on your next trip to Portugal. Enjoy access to private tastings, recommended Quintas and fabulous experiences. Call now +1 (800) 614 1648
Deb and Jim Lovie – Ottawa, Canada said “Enjoyed meeting the winemaker Manuel, super tour of the estate, interesting history, the most incredible vistas of the valley. Lovely staff, friendly and helpful. We enjoyed an amazing dinner, superb wines at the vineyard and a very romantic evening…..fabulous! Two excellent final nights at Quinto do Crasto leaving no doubt that we would return to The Douro Valley.”