Mountain views from Quinta de Santa Cristina on a vinho verde wine tasting and tour

Vinho verde is often badly translated as ‘green wine’ but it really just means young wine; light, fresh, slightly effervescent and best drunk within a year of bottling. Within this overall category of Portuguese wines, there’s a surprising variety of flavours, as I discovered when I visited Quinta de Santa Cristina for a winery tour and vinho verde wine tasting session.

Portugal’s vinho verde wine region covers the northwest of Portugal, mainly the Minho region, and spreads down and past the Douro River in Basto, the sub-region where Quinta de Santa Cristina is located. The climate here is quite different from that in the far north, with hotter days and increased solar exposure that results in a slightly higher alcohol content than is typical for vinho verde.

Views from Quinta de Santa Cristina

Having just spent a few days with my friend in the Douro wine region, the rugged green landscape of the Minho made a pleasant change and broke up our journey to Porto airport. Quinta de Santa Cristina’s modern winery building has a privileged view of the Marão and Alvão Mountains as well as the valley below.

The wine estate encompasses a small chapel dedicated to Saint Cristina, whose story you will learn about on the tour, a camellia garden containing 50 varieties and three farms.

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Walking in the vineyards

The winery tour Jules and I did began with a short walk around the vineyards to better understand the significance of the location, the extent of the quinta’s vineyards and the 11 different varieties of grapes they produce.

If you have the time and energy, there are two other marked walking routes around the estate with information boards to tell you about the most important grapes, such as Alvarinho, Fernão Pires and the rare Batoca.

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Batoca grapes and unique wine

Liliana explained that Batoca is a high maintenance grape variety and because it is so demanding, most wineries don’t bother growing it. Quinta de Santa Cristina is the only one to go to the trouble of producing enough of this grape for a fruity, smooth and fresh mono-varietal wine which I’d happily drink more of.

Vinho verde winery tour

The vineyards predate the winery building, which is modern and well-designed. Liliana explained the process and purpose of the various machinery involved in taking the grapes from unloading through to the bottling plant. I must have been absorbed by what she was telling us because I have no photos of this part of the tour!

They also make sparkling wines here and have bottles stacked in the riddling racks awaiting hand-turning and the ‘secret sauce’ that will determine their sweetness.

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Vinho verde wine tasting and regional foodie treats

Of course the best part of visiting a winery is the wine tasting, especially when accompanied by quality local produce like cured, marinated sheep’s cheese and red wine chouriço.

We started with the white Batoca wine I mentioned earlier. Of the 3 wines we tasted, this was my favourite.

The second white vinho verde was a blend of Alvarinho and Trajadura grapes with a noticeable pineapple aroma and flavour. Liliana described it as a gateway to vinho verde for those that struggle with the slightly higher acidity levels. I’ve long been a vinho verde fan and wasn’t overly keen on this one, specifically because of the strong tropical notes.

The pleasant rosé vinho verde wine had a slight hint of strawberries and red fruits; mildly sweet yet refreshing and perfect for an afternoon tipple.

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Our ‘expert’ verdict

Jules and I thoroughly enjoyed the tour and vinho verde wine tasting, finding it just the right balance of information without overload. This was our 6th winery tour in the space of 4 days (all in the name of research, of course) and we both declared it the most enjoyable.

Practicalities for visiting Quinta de Santa Cristina

You can visit Quinta de Santa Cristina as part of a multi-day holiday touring the best of the vinho verde region with a driver and guide.

If you prefer to be independent, no problem:

Given its proximity to the Douro, you could visit the quinta on your way there or back to Porto or as a day trip from Amarante or Guimarães, for example.

If you’re driving from Porto, the winery is only 45 minutes away. It’s also easy to access from two major motorways, the A4 and A7: Google Maps

See my tips on car rentals here.

Range of tours and activities

With activities ranging from simple wine tastings to picnics, Segway tours and adventure park thrills, all you need to do is pick something that suits your availability, energy levels and budget. The range and quality of tours is so good that they’ve won the “Best of Wine Tourism, 2017” award from the Association of Great Wine Capitals.

Full-day programmes that mix wine with other interests are not yet on the website but include golf and wine, horse riding and wine and wine with Romanesque architecture and 11th century castle.

Make a reservation at least 24 hours in advance, 48 for the programmes that include activities away from the winery:

If you don’t have your own transport, this one day Vinho Verde small group tour from Porto is a great way to discover these fresh young wines. Get 5% off with my code: FOX5

If you’d like more time to enjoy the beautiful scenery, why not look into an overnight stay in Celérico de Basto?

Nearby accommodation in Celórico de Basto

Clean, modern and spacious, the 4-star Celórico Palace Hotel is only a couple of kilometres from the quinta so you could walk there and back  if you want to enjoy the wine without worrying about driving, especially if you do the picnic tour. It has an indoor and outdoor pool, onsite spa and restaurant.

Book your room in Celérico Palace Hotel

Quinta das Escomoeiras is a delightful country retreat on the banks of the Tâmega River. The traditional stone building is surrounded by vineyards  outdoor pool and terrace with views. It’s further away from the winery but the free bike hire may help (check the hill situation first).

Find other accommodation in Celorico de Basto

Disclosure: I visited Quinta de Santa Cristina as a guest. Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which simply means that at no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission that helps to keep this blog going.


  1. Author

    Thank you, Susan. As always, I appreciate your support and encouraging comments. Thanks for the referrals – I also send people to your article about immigration so it works both ways 🙂

  2. Just the right mix of detail and personal reflection, as always. I love referring those considering a move to Portugal to your blog to enjoy and discover through this navigable tour of the places rarely covered any where else.

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