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Wine, horses and golf & Cruz Alta Estate

It was the dream of an Irish scientist to bring together a wine estate for organic wines, the love of horses and the fascination for golf in the Cruz Alta estate, located in the Barrocal of the Algarve. However, his age caught up with him and that is why the estate, with a winery and liqueur distillery, horse stables, golf facilities and a restaurant, was for sale as we visited it in 2017.

Via a route of winding roads with surprising green views, we reached the Alta Cruz estate from the town of Loulé towards Salir. We were welcomed by one of the loose horses that manager Helder has in his care. Not only the horses, but also the wine production and maintenance of the entire estate - which he manages together with a number of employees - falls under his responsibility.

Everything is taken care of and maintained down to the last detail. It seems as if we have ended up in paradise when we enter the courtyard of the Aldega through a high arched opening and have a surprising view over three connected swimming pools and the valley below. Helder shows us around the complex, which includes an ingeniously designed horse stable, where the hay in the attic can be efficiently distributed among the stables via openings on the side. The water for the horses is also regulated fully automatically.

The efficiency and functional design of the building with its sturdy concrete constructions amazes us. After the horse stable and the tack room we visit the Aldega with winery and distillery. The professional design with the stainless steel wine barrels immediately catches the eye. Here too, efficient use has been considered in detail. From hygiene regulations to the operation of the equipment. In addition to equipment for wine production, there is also a beautiful alambique for distillation processes.

We continue the tour through the park-like grounds towards the lower restaurant. It is not yet ready for use, but it does have all the necessary professional kitchen equipment to turn it into a tasting room for drinks and food and an opportunity for larger parties and celebrations. The robust concrete construction of this building also stands out, which fits in naturally with the landscape.

Opposite the restaurant is a putting green for golf and there are plans for a 9-hole pitching course next to it. It is clear that the whole thing is still a process in progress. Interrupted, yes, but with the potential to grow into a top location. The strong combination of wine, horses and golf fits in beautifully with the rural character of the estate. Together with the restaurant, which in addition to being a tasting room for the wines, also offers culinary options to take advantage of the 70 species of mushrooms that occur on the estate.

At that moment there was only a permit/approval for the use of the winery. The other use parts of the estate were still in the process of granting permits and approval, which were expected within a reasonable period of time. We conclude the tour in the storage cellar under the Adega, with a view of the stacked bottles; part of the production of recent years. Upstairs in the Adega, Helder has already let us taste the wines in the barrels, which will be ready for bottling in some time.

We were able to taste the young white wine and a new sparkling version that is being made for the first time this year. A promising process as well as the implementation with the brilliant possibilities that this estate offers. Before we conclude, Helder shows us where an eagle has its nest in one of the trees on the higher slope. I can see him floating above Cruz Alta.

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