Stuart Forster visits the Quinta da Timpeira: a homestay in Portugal’s Douro Valley.
The Douro Valley is known for being the home of the world’s first demarcated wine region and the area from which grapes are sourced to produce Port. Driving to the Quinta da Timpeira, a homestay near Lamego, I pause several times to photograph the pleasant scenery of the carefully tended vineyards and rolling landscape.
The Quinta da Timpeira, is an attractive four hectare estate on the south side of the Douro Valley, 2.5km (1.5 miles) from the nearest town. The family-run estate opened its doors to paying guests two decades ago. Since the turn of 2011-12 the Quinta da Timpeira has been under the management of Vasco and Rita Parente and major renovations have been undertaken.
Homestays in Portugal’s Douro Valley
What sets this place apart from many homestays is the accessibility and affability of the hosts, who are present at breakfast and dinner, reinforcing the sense that you’re dropping in to stay with a family. If you need to tap a local’s knowledge then meal times provide a good opportunity to pick Vasco’s brains.
Accommodation is offered in seven double bedrooms, all with en suite bathrooms, in a recently restored house. The house is decorated with items of furniture that, Vasco proudly points out, once belonged to his grandmother. Brass pots and a polished wooden floor add notes of smart rusticity.
Spacious rooms and mountain views
The house has a spacious communal room, decorated with leather sofas and a fireplace. It’s a good spot to relax with a glass of wine on an evening. Breakfast is served in the same room, whose large windows afford good views over the Medeas Mountains.
Unlike some of the estates in this region, the Quinta da Timpeira is not a major wine producer. Most of the grapes grown on the estate are sold to produce sparkling wine but about a thousand bottles are produced for consumption by the Parente family and their guests. Depending on when you visit fresh apples and cherries may also be available; the estate has 900 cherry trees.
As we walk down to the wine cellar, Vasco points out an elegant dark wood, glass-fronted cupboard in which bottles of wine were stored. It was once used to lock away the medicines used by one of his pharmacist ancestors.
Wine production in the Douro Valley
In the cellar itself, where wine stomping takes place each autumn, a couple of wooden barrels are present, though only for decorative reasons. Local handicrafts are displayed on the back wall. Home-made jams are also on show. The effect is rustic and a fine setting for tasting wine.
Vasco takes pains to point out we shouldn’t set our expectations too highly; after all his wines were not produced for wider sale. He then uncorks a bright, summery white wine and a quaffable red.
As we sip wine and taste local sausage Vasco explains that, for him, moving here to take over the running of the estate was a lifestyle decision that allowed him to make use of his professional training.
The estate makes a positive impression and has the laid-back feel that visitors may well hope for when visiting rural properties in this part of Portugal.
Non-staying guests can call ahead (tel. +351 254 612 811) to book a set menu lunch at the Quinta da Timpeira.
Booking ahead is highly recommended, particularly in the Douro’s harvest time (normally the second and third week in September).
See the Quinta da Timpeira for more information about the estate.
For information about things to do and see in the Douro Valley, visit the Visit Portugal website.
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