Become a winemaker in your own right

Sooner or later, every serious wine connoisseur wonders what it would be like to make their own wine. At Quinta dos Vales in the Portuguese Algarve, this thought led to an interesting proposition. The concept involved living close to the vines and making wine with professional help. Rolf Klein reports.

Quinta dos Vales
Quinta dos Vales

A wine workshop is much more than a wine seminar. Participants usually create their own Cuvée under professional guidance. The ideal scenario is when they can take a few bottles of it home with them and proudly present it to their guests: “Voilà, wine made with my own fair hands!” Karl Heinz Stock and his son Michael, owners of Quinta dos Vales, also offer such workshops. These workshops started in 2018 and during the year the Stocks were pleased to welcome over 100 participants for such an experience. Whereas in 2019 the workshops have really taken off, over 500 wine-lovers have participated so far and the final count for the year is expected to exceed 1.000 people. However, for some time now, they have been taking things even further. At Quinta dos Vales, connoisseurs can not only fill a whole oak barrel with their own wine, which is a fairly sizeable stock of wine, they can also lease a vineyard plot, so they have their own vines, from which they can even make their own wine. The brilliant thing about it is that, as the leaseholder of this plot, they can confidently leave the care and, if required, harvesting of the grapes to the experts at Quinta. Not every amateur winemaker has enough time to be on site all the time.

Then again, why not? If you had a small apartment right next to your vines, there would be no need to keep organising costly trips with hotel accommodation. You could simply go there whenever you want. Or even live there for a few months! That’s exactly what the Stocks are offering their clients. Quinta has several attractively furnished apartments with a view of their own vineyard: “The Vines”. As the owner of one of these apartments, you are very close to experiencing the life of a winemaker but without the burden of a massive investment in your own wine-growing estate with staff and cellar facilities. There is no need to do without professional knowhow and support either. This is the ideal solution for many wine enthusiasts. 

One of the first residents is Dr Peter Wein, a German senior hospital consultant from Lower Bavaria. His dream of making his own wine has come true. Wine made from his first crop has recently been bottled and labelled. Under the supervision of the winemaking team the vines used to produce white wine have flourished (Peter Wein prefers to drink white rather than red wines). Despite the distance, their collaboration worked so well that Peter Wein felt that he was directly involved in the production of his wines: “Everything was done in constant consultation with me. This included inspecting how the vines were growing in the vineyard via photos, reports of measurements to indicate how ripe they were, the anticipated alcohol content and acidity. This meant I was able to have a say in when the harvest should take place.” Once the grapes had been transformed into wine, the doctor flew to Portugal to make a decision about the wine ageing process. He examined and tasted the wines in the laboratory. “That was very exciting,” said Dr Wein, thinking back to that time. His experience has been positive, and that not only applies to winemaking, but to everything associated with it as well: “Quinta dos Vales is a dream come true! The well-tended, lovingly designed development surrounded by vines, as well as orange and fig trees, is an oasis of relaxation from the very first moment. Another major plus point is its proximity to the sea. The nearest beach is 7 km away. There are around 25 delightful little beaches and coves within a 20 km radius. There are countless restaurants with wonderfully fresh fish.” 

When the German entrepreneur, Karl Heinz Stock, bought Quinta dos Vales a decade ago, this idyll was still a distant dream. With the help of proven experts, he turned it into a model business, uniquely combining an appreciation of art (Stock has been a sculptor for over 30 years) with the experience of professional winemakers and oenologists. The wines of Quinta dos Vales are now winning lots of awards in wine competitions such as Mundus Vini. As a venue for events, the picturesque Quinta has become a major attraction for visitors and tourists in the region. With their “Winemaker Experience” ‒ the Stocks’ name for their programme of wine workshops, vineyard plot-leasing opportunities and “Living in a Vineyard” experiences to suit every desire and budget ‒ Karl Heinz and Michael Stock are making a big contribution to the boom in wine tourism in the Algarve. They help like-minded people to make their own dreams come true. 

Father and son are delighted by its success: “One of our vineyard leaseholders has bought another two plots for the 2019 harvest.” The 32 apartments are due for completion this year and their very popular luxurious furnishings are also highly sought-after. “Some clients have already found friends for the neighbouring apartment,” Michael Stock is delighted to report. It should be noted that even the biggest wine connoisseur and amateur winemaker cannot be present all year round. The comfortable apartments are therefore also good for letting out as holiday apartments. The experts at Quinta are happy to help with this.

The Stocks have now started a new chapter: “The King Vines” project. This is a residential development with vineyards, around seven kilometres from Quinta dos Vales and close to the sea. The vineyard will be created in autumn 2019. Building work is planned to start on the houses in the second half of the year. There is already considerable interest, especially from people wanting to spend more than just a few weeks’ holiday in the Algarve. “The King Vines is intended for people wanting to spend six to twelve months of the year there,” says Michael Stock. “That’s why the house must also meet their requirements. Our first clients are therefore able to work with the architect to design their home to their exact requirements.” Care has been taken to ensure that each apartment has an ideal view of the vines. 

What a wonderful prospect: a home just a short bike ride or walk to the beach and with very nice neighbours, who give you a beautiful wine every year – a wine from your own vines. Not only passionate wine connoisseurs find that a tempting prospect. Now is the time to do this.


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