R&C Spotlight - Herdade da Malhadina Nova

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Charles McDiarmid
By Charles McDiarmid, Owner & Maître de Maison
Newsletters23 June 2023


The culmination of a vision and a unique family project spanning generations over 20 years, Herdade Da Malhadinha Nova occupies a Portuguese paradise nestled in Albernoa, Beja. Its magic lies not only in the incredible landscape which encompasses it but in the story of a dream coming to fruition.

What would become a journey of a lifetime first took root in 1983. Maria Antónia Soares, her husband João Soares, their children, Paulo and João, and Rita, João’s wife, ran a chain of wine shops based in the Algarve which distributed Portugal’s leading wine brands. Rita, João, and Paulo felt called to venture further than distribution, enticed by the idea of exploring the production side of wine. The hunt for the perfect plot of land began.

After acquiring the estate in 1998, the first vines were planted in front of the property by Rita and João’s eldest daughter, Francisca, in 2001. Rita, João, and Paulo were later joined by Margaret, Paulo’s wife. Each family member has naturally taken on a specific role, yet they all enthusiastically share in the management of the project. The involvement in this family affair reaches into the younger generation as well. The labels for Malhadinha Nova’s wines are designed by the children of both couples. The first iteration featuring a bunch of grapes was crafted by João and Rita’s eldest daughter, Francisca. The famous mottled cow was designed later down the road by their second daughter, Matilde. Other siblings also brought their creative flair to various labels, which change from year to year.

What began as a dedication to regenerative agriculture and the creation of fine wine evolved into the addition of the first accommodation house in 2008, when the original house was rebuilt. In the same year, an additional 250 hectares were added through the acquisition of the adjoining estate, Herdade do Ancoradouro. Ten years later, new guest accommodations were rebuilt from the historical ruins that Ria Soares and architect Joana Raposo wished to honour and preserve. And so was born Casa do Ancoradouro, Casa das Pedras, Casa das Artes e Ofícios and Casa da Ribeira, open since February 2020. The newest addition, which came nearly two years later, is Venda Grande; a house in the village five kilometres from the estate. This establishment proudly joined the Relais & Châteaux family in August 2020.

Herdade da Malhadinha Nova
Photograph by: David De Vleeschauwer

The heart and soul of this place are instantly felt upon arrival. Through a commitment to their guiding principles of sustainability and a deep respect for the environment and preservation of ancient traditions and customs, the Soares family have crafted a haven within the Alentejo region. Time stands still here, where guests are greeted by cows, sheep, and pure-blood Lusitano horses, amidst olive groves and expansive vineyards. Each of the six housing units blends contemporary elements with the traditional rural quality of the Alentejo plains. At their restaurant, savour the flavours of local cuisine brought to life through the organic produce grown in the fields, vineyard, olive groves, and pastures on the estate.

A unique gem, the history behind Herdade Da Malhadinha Nova adds a warm depth and dimension to a stunning hospitality experience that truly must be experienced firsthand.

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