In search of the more cultural side of the Algarve, I discovered a sculpture garden amid the vineyards at Quinta dos Vales near Estômbar.
As soon as I saw the smooth shiny curves of the fat ‘Graces’ dancing, I knew I’d enjoy Karl Heinz Stock’s sculptures, which are bold, colourful and scattered around his wine estate. While he uses smooth fibre glass and polyester resin for larger pieces, there are other works in more natural materials such as wood, marble and limestone.
My favourite, which may or may not still be there, was the kissing hippos.
Current collections include stylish furniture made from wine barrels by Serhiy Khomyak and a set of colourful bears.
Quinta dos Vales wine
I hadn’t been able to book a winery tour just for one person so I wandered around the grounds on my own, free of charge. This was April so the leaves were only just beginning to sprout on the vines but vineyard and other agricultural activities were underway around the estate.
While I may not have learned much about the award-winning wine they produce, I did get to taste it before leaving and the red was surprisingly good. Patrick Stuart, wine writer for the Portugal resident, puts their 2011 Dialog red wine in his top 10 Algarve wines.
You can book a 90-minute guided tour of the estate and wine cellar with commented tasting up to hours in advance or do as I did and do a simple tasting session in the farm shop.
The estate and shop are open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 6 pm.
Black pigs and other animals at Quinta dos Vales
Aside from the kissing hippos and colourful horses and elephants I encountered, I hadn’t expected to see any animals so it came as a pleasant surprise to find an area where various species live. These include native sheep and goats from the Algarve, a herd of deer, some donkeys and my absolute favourite, a family of pot-bellied black pigs.
Rural accommodation at Quinta dos Vales
Another aspect of Quinta dos Vales that only became clear during my visit is the range of onsite accommodation within the wine estate. They now offer a range of apartments and villas, some with a private pool, others with use of a shared one. If the idea of being surrounded by vineyards and palm trees instead of apartment and hotel blocks appeals, click to see the options and check prices.