Ventozelo Hotel & Quinta

While growing up in the southern regions of Portugal, Algarve and Alentejo, for a long time the northern parts of Portugal were unknown to me. When I first visited Porto, I fell in love with its charm an mystical touch. It showed me another angle of my home country. The Douro region is the perfect vacation spot for wine and food lovers as well as for those seeking for quietness.

Some wineries offer beyond wine and food experiences also a place to stay. Ventozelo is one of those. Ventozelo is not just a hotel. It is above all a farm where good hospitality is extended to all those who arrive, be it for work or just passing through. It invites you to stay a little longer, to rest, to enjoy the astonishing beauty of the landscape and also to discover the farm’s various spaces that have been restored while retaining the simple roots which characterize the most traditional farms in the Douro.

Jorge Dias, CEO of Gran Cruz says:

“Ventozelo is one of those special, magical places that are difficult to describe. One of those places where time stops. Where you can hear the silence and see the stars.”

Located in the very heart of the Upper Douro Wine Region, Quinta de Ventozelo is one of the biggest

and oldest farms in the Douro, covering 400 hectares, 200 of which under vines. Over 500 years old, Ventozelo is now entering a new chapter in its history, one focusing on agriculture and wine production, along with wine tourism and hospitality. With 29 rooms, a restaurant, wine tasting, a visitor center, walking trails and nature and hunting-related activities, Ventozelo Hotel & Quinta offers a series of experiences closely linked to rural life, particularly the vineyard and the wine, and to the gastronomy, landscape, history and flavours of the Douro.

On 14 December 2014 – the date the Upper Douro Wine Region became a UNESCO World Heritage Site – Quinta de Ventozelo was bought by Gran Cruz, the world’s largest exporter of port wine. This acquisition allowed the group to gain a presence in every sector of the Douro and port wine industry and to better control every stage of the production process, thus ensuring the supply of wines at new levels of quality necessary to consolidate its Cruz, Dalva and Presidential brands in different markets. Taking advantage of the qualitative potential of the property – with vines growing at between 100 and 500 metres of altitude and under practically every type of sun exposure at each altitude – also allowed Grupo Gran Cruz to bolster its position in the premium port and Douro wine segments by producing and selling wines produced under the Quinta do Ventozelo brand.

Santelmo, an architect from the Douro Valley, was responsible for the project to convert this traditional working farm into a wine tourism project with close links to nature and rural life, based around the values associated with the Upper Douro Wine Region, a UNESCO World Heritage site. His goal was:

“To allow people to visit and stay at the farm, to add the comfort essential for well-being, to reuse the buildings and to continue the history.”

Enhancing the ancestral qualities, making use of the set of buildings that existed on the farm rather than building anew, and adding a contemporary touch without disturbing the landscape were the major challenges faced by the architect. The existing materials included the schist, stonework, roofs and old plaster and the decision was taken to opt for a balance between visible stone and whitewashed surfaces. Painted wooden exterior facings were introduced. The roofs were restored. The painted wooden door and window frames were remade. In the extensions, for the museum, for example, “new” and distinguishing materials were used like painted metal sheeting and weathering steel. Inside, the wooden structure was emphasized as a

characteristic feature.

This architectural simplicity extends to the interior and the decor (the work of Cristina Caiano and NBY Concept and Project), whose aim is always to ensure that guests feel like they are entering a genuine and welcoming farmhouse – with a fireplace, a book, a blanket and, of course, a good glass of wine – rather than a hotel.

Cantina de Ventozelo Restaurant and Wine Bar

Open to guests and the general public, Cantina do Ventozelo, which stands exactly on the spot where workers once ate their meals, is another attraction, exploring the authentic regional cuisine of the Douro and Trás-os-Montes. Developed under consultation with Chef Miguel Castro e Silva (who has worked with Gran Cruz for several years), the maxim applied here is “The whole Douro Valley on a single farm”, favouring the products grown and produced at Ventozelo (beetroot, green beans, cabbage, peas, chard, beef tomato, figs, quince, olive oil...), some game and a focus on the concept of “zero kilometres”, which means working with close suppliers and preferring regional products, often on the basis of bartering with neighbours – reviving an ancient sustainable practice.

Ventozelo Visitor Center

As a wine tourism project, Ventozelo’s aim is to afford visitors the chance to taste, explore and relax, while also “discovering by visiting” and “learning by experiencing”. It is precisely with this intention to touch people indelibly that the Ventozelo Visitor Center was born, creating an opportunity to learn about the Douro region (and its natural, tangible and intangible heritage) via the true sensory experience of discovering Ventozelo and its history.

Pictures © Ventozelo Hotel & Quinta

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