Community him selecting a bottle from his cellar to enjoy with a meal.” After his father’s death he inherited the farm, which was originally bought by his maternal grandfather, but who never cultivated it himself as he was involved in the fish canning industry. Having chosen viticulture, Guillaume went on to study winemaking at a college in Montpellier, Paris, followed by postgraduate studies in Oporto. “Producing wine in the Algarve was always uppermost in my mind but I worried about the climate and the lack of a quality winemaking tradition in the region,” he points out.
Wine with a Difference Most people are familiar with the excellent wines of the Douro and the Alentejo but Guillaume Leroux, a local wine maker, is making sure that the Algarve is firmly on the map too. Monte da Casteleja, near Lagos, with its traditional Algarvian ‘quinta’, is a seven hectare farm just past the aerodrome on the road to Sargaçal. I learn that on the ‘monte’ or hillocks overlooking green undulating countryside, there is evidence of an earlier Roman castle; hence the name ‘casteleja’. I am not wholly surprised to find out that wine is likely to have been produced on this spot many centuries ago. For over ten years Guillaume has been growing vines here. He firmly believes that the Algarve can produce good quality wines provided local conditions are taken into account. And he has gone one step further
4 | www.tomorrowalgarve.com
By Lena Strang
by being the first in the region to produce and market organic wine. As a wine lover I was looking forward to meeting Guillaume and finding out about his endeavours. I wanted to know what’s special about the wines he produces and how he can possibly compete with established wines in other regions. He greets me at the entrance of the farmhouse, which is painted in a fresh white and blue colour. I am taken by his bouncy enthusiasm and his eagerness to show me what he has accomplished. As we walk around the grounds, Guillaume tells me more about himself. Born in Paris of a French father and Algarvian mother, he spent his childhood in Portugal. “My father was a great lover of Portuguese wines and this passion was passed on to me early, ”he explains. “I always remember
His month-long stint working at vineyards in Australia was a turning point. “Yes! I thought. Australia has the same arid conditions as the Algarve so it would be possible to do it successfully here too,” he enthuses. With his subsequent experience of working at vineyards in central Portugal and the Douro region, he set about realising his ambitions. After much research into climactic conditions, analysis of soil and choice of grape varieties, he planted his first vines in 2000 with some financial assistance from the government. The selection of grapes for arid conditions was crucial. The red variety, ‘Bastardinho of Sagres’ which he had come across in the