Cabrita Wines – At the Quinta Da Vinha

The Cabrita vineyard is a family-owned business developed by the Cabrita clan. It is responsible for producing local wines from local grape varieties to create a taste that is unique to the region.

WORDS Julian Putley

The delightful Quinta Cabrita (cabrita meaning goat) is situated on the border of the Silves/Lagoa districts. From the outside, it looks like an attractive country residence, but upon further examination, a full working vineyard and winery become evident.

At the vineyard, we were introduced to Sr. Dinis Gonçalves, the estate’s resident oenologist, who described the operation of both the vineyard and the winery. He has been with the estate, owned by Senhor Manuel Cabrita, since 2015.

The business has been in the family for over four decades and now comprises close to seven hectares of land. In the beginning, the estate was a fruit business, producing pears, cherries, melons and table grapes. ‘Homemade’ wines began as a hobby until it was decided that wine production would be a good addition to the family enterprise. The idea was promulgated that all Portuguese grape vines should be planted to make local wine varieties. Many vineyards, especially those being bought by other European nationals, were using imported grapes like Syrah and Cabernet because of their popularity. The Cabritas decided that the terroir was important. In other words, grapes that have survived and even improved in the local environment should be supported and encouraged.

A meeting with renowned Portuguese agronomist and oenologist, António Maçanita, in 2007 gave Senhor Cabrita the confidence to expand his business and develop his ‘Cabrita’ wine brand. Maçanita was employed as a consultant from 2007 to 2009. Subsequently, his sister Joana, also a qualified and expert winemaker is the present consultant.


The Negra Mole is a Portuguese grape and has long been popular in Portugal. The name translates to Black Soft. The variety is ‘indigenous’ to the Algarve and is one of the most common grapes to be found in the region. In bygone days, it was the most widely used grape for ordinary wine ( not always good). Now, after much experimenting and blending, it is becoming a quality product. The vineyard experimented with grafting; taking a new and young Negra Mole and grafting it onto an older vine to produce a better and more consistent grape with a deeper colour and sweeter juice. In 2015, the first excellent red Negra Mole wine was produced and in 2016, the Cabrita Negra Mole won the gold medal at the Brussels wine-tasting festival. “It’s been quite a journey,” exclaimed Gonçalves.

It is fair to say that the Quinta da Vinha and its Negra Mole wine is the regional leader and many wineries around the Algarve are rushing to emulate the success of this Cabrita brand.

The Cabrita winery also produces a light rosé from the Negra Mole grape; its red Negra Mole of 14.5 percent alcohol results from the sweetness of the grape. New trends tend to be for less alcoholic varieties, and Dinis listens carefully to the comments of his customers. “To minimise the alcohol level, it’s necessary to harvest the grapes a little earlier so the sugar content is less. We are also experimenting with fewer additives like sulphur. Nevertheless, the oft-quoted reason for a wine hangover being the sulphur content is a myth.”

Along with the Negra Mole, this vineyard is using Arinto and Verdelho. These white grape vines were chosen by this innovative vineyard and winery along with the red grape vines, Touriga Nacional, Trinca Deira and Aragonez, the latter with an origin in Spain. Now Cabrita wines are sought after by wine connoisseurs worldwide. The annual total production of the winery is around 80,000 litres.


After this fascinating insight into wine production, my wife Monique and I were given a tour of the premises with new attractive additions and completely renovated and upgraded areas, all done when Algarve wine tourism escalated in 2015. Now there’s a bar and tasting centre, an office that doubles as a lab for various testing and measuring, a wine cellar where rows of oak barrels contain wine maturing at a specific temperature, a large winery with huge steel tanks and a grape pressing station. We learned that the crushed juice of the white grape takes 20 to 30 days to turn into wine while the time period of the red is 30 to 50 days. For new white wines, a seven-month period is allowed before the wine is bottled. One to two years is considered a minimum time period to produce a good mature wine but usually the more time the better.

The new facilities are a great asset when it comes to wine tastings, vineyard tours and special events. The guided wine tour is highly recommended. You can expect a generous wine tasting paired with excellent tapas. Furthermore, the tasting is held in a beautifully designed tasting room. The winery is open to the public from Monday to Friday. A reservation is recommended.

There is also a wine club with great benefits. Selected bottles are reserved exclusively for members and discounts are available. There are many members from Northern Europe and Scandinavia where amateur winemakers come to enjoy the ‘Portuguese Experience.’ Portugal’s beach, sea and sun vacation now has another facet, the ‘wine tour, tasting and tapas journey.’

Cabrita Wines invites you to an afternoon of music accompanied by wine on November 5th at 4 pm. It all starts with a guided tour of the farm, followed by good music and excellent wines. Reserve your place via email

Tastings and Reservation:

+351 911 113 176


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