That thought has now transformed into a motto: “turning wine-lovers into wine-makers”, which is exactly what the project entails. That is achieved by selling each participant a small parcel of vineyard, with the resulting grapes transformed into a bespoke wine each year. Not only is each production separate and unique, what sets this project apart is that the participants are in full control of all production-related decisions for their wine, aided by the estate’s experienced staff.

The challenge here lies in sharing as much detailed and technical information with the participants as possible, but in a way that a non-professional can understand it, process it and take an informed decision. The project, still made to be a luxury pastime, transforms something that could feel like work into an emotional and passion-filled journey for the private winemakers. The team behind The Winemaker Experience understood that finding this balance was crucial in the success of the project, which is why they took their time with fine-tuning all its details. The first harvest to include a private winemaker was in 2018, but they waited 3 years before actively launching the marketing campaign of the project, back in November 2020.

Michael Stock, who acts as the contact-person to the private winemakers, explains: “There was a specific moment when I realized that we were ready for the next step. This was when I understood that each year our participants ask less questions, but the questions they do ask are that much more in-depth.”

The year 2020 turned out to be a very educational one for the team. Since none of the private winemakers could be physically present to be hands-on in the creation of their wine and witness such crucial stages of the process as the barrel samples being taken or the labeling process, the team decided to make the year as productive as possible and take on the challenge of making the project fully remote. Through extensive communication with photos, videos, emails and WhatsApp, the private winemakers were kept up-to-date and in control, all from the comfort of their sofas at home. This experience has resulted in a perfectly developed structure and line of communication with the participants, making The Winemaker Experience fully viable as a project that can be enjoyed remotely.

A good illustration of this success is the story of Brenda & Peter, an international couple who live in Miami and own a parcel of Touriga Nacional at Quinta dos Vales. After traveling to 24 wine regions in the world, they arrived in Portugal and fell in love with its wines, food, people and history. Brenda & Peter joined The Winemaker Experience in August 2020, and while their first wine is currently ageing in oak, they are already preparing the production of their second wine. Both being certified sommeliers and holding numerous other wine-related certifications, they now also can, and should, call themselves Algarve winemakers, even though this process has been handled 100% remotely so far.

All these positive experiences and developments have encouraged the Quinta dos Vales team to go as far as to make The Winemaker Experience the core of their business, already doubling the number of participants since the launch of their marketing campaign.

However, their ambitions are far greater than that, as the goal for the coming years is to dedicate more and more of their commercially operated vineyards into private vineyards. In preparation thereof Quinta dos Vales have already constructed a dedicated cellar for The Winemaker Experience with an integrated event-section, so that the private winemakers can store, taste and blend their wines in this rustic cellar separately from the rest of the Quinta dos Vales wine.

Clearly the future that the team of Quinta dos Vales sees for wine tourism is not just the combination of agriculture and tourism, but the integration thereof.


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