Virtuoso Life - January/February 2018 - 104
you're flung into
so deep and silent,
it almost demands
The Évora Cathedral.
"In Portugal, most wines are
blends of different grapes, which
means you have to look for specific brands to pick the best options. Some can't-miss choices
from Alentejo are Herdade dos
Grous, Herdade do Esporão
Private Selection, and Monte da
Ravasqueira. If you're in the area
for a few days, visit the small,
family-owned Dona Maria wine
estate in Estremoz, 30 minutes
from Évora, and, as a contrast,
Esporão, one of Portugal's largest wine producers, a beautiful
winery with centuries of history
and a great restaurant as well."
- Luís de Sousa, Virtuoso agency
V I RT U O S O L I F E
elegance. The foreman's original house and a row of farm workers'
quarters (where we stayed) have been converted into bedrooms
and cottages by Eduardo Souto de Moura, one of Portugal's top
architects. Uva's wife, designer Ana Anahory, and her business
partner, Felipa Almeida, commissioned Portuguese artists to create
custom pieces to tell the São Lourenço story. It's a delight to notice
these details: illustrations inspired by Alentejo fauna and flora on
nineteenth- and twentieth-century manuscripts that belonged to
the estate, or a cabinet containing objects from the family archives
placed in the restaurant.
Everything feels welcoming and unpretentious and rooted in the
surrounding culture, including the staff. That's the one element
guests accustomed to high-end destinations and service should be
forewarned about: The Alentejan pace is slow. Except for the hotel's
general manager and spa manager, both Four Seasons alumni, and
a few other staff members, the majority of Uva's 80 employees have
never worked in hospitality.
So if you should find yourself waiting for a wine list in the Alentejo (we found service to be slow everywhere) or for, say, a cappuccino the next morning, just remember that your waiter might be a
bullfighter. Or a teacher. Then take a deep breath, let time slow to its
natural state, and accept the local pace. Quiet is always just around
the corner, and soon you'll be in another hushed little hill town. As
dusk falls, you'll watch the sky grow pink. You'll leave the pool and
dress for dinner. Someone will ask the time, and you'll barely understand the question.