“Throughout the last two centuries you have had many generations of craftsmanship that never changed. We looked at that and thought, ‘This is exactly how we have to base our work, we’re going to bring this property back to life using the same techniques and the same families who built it initially.’”
We’re in great company with José Antonio Uva, the 8th generation of his family to steward São Lourenço do Barrocal over the last 200 years. What was once an estate and ancient small farming village - which stood the test of time and turmoil of well sought after land - José Antonio has carefully and slowly brought back to life using local materials and craftsmanship.
Today, it stands strong as a remarkable hotel of understated luxury - a place to call home, where farm and landscape sing in harmony - along the Monsaraz foothills of the world renowned wine region of Alentejo, Portugal.
In this episode, José Antonio shares how a childhood of storytelling and time as a teen traveling the world, led him to return home determined to bring the community back to life in a manner that respected its unique ecology and ancient history, so others could feel at home here as he always has.
[1:40] After owning Barrocal since the 1820’s, José Antonio’s family lost the estate in the midst of national turmoil the same year he was born, which resulted in a childhood hearing myths and memories from generations past.
[3:30] When José Antonio’s family regained ownership of their estate almost a decade later, they found it in disrepair and while his parent’s focused on revitalizing the farmland, José Antonio took it upon his young adult self to develop a plan to renovate the farmhouses.
[8:00] A story of “Slow Development.” What each generation built upon the estate over 200 years as a young nation developed its national identity and local villages refined their artisanal crafts.
[16:00] How José Antonio’s ancestors planted some of the region’s first vineyards and grew its grape growing community to become one of Portugal’s most well known wine regions, still to this day.
[29:30] It’s common for guests to arrive at Barrocal with an entire agenda planned but once they witness the understated luxury and sense of place surrounded by ancient oaks, olive groves and vineyards, they adapt to the slower way of life.
[35:00] To this day, Barrocal produces organic and biodynamic wines using grapes native to the terroir of Monsaraz, blended with a spirit of innovation and ancient techniques to honor the generations past.
[41:50] There’s so much to discover Barrocal’s legacy and natural surroundings - from olive oil and wine tastings to horse riding and birding, from beekeeping and flower arrangement workshops to boat or hot air balloon tours, from spa and wellness to stargazing, from pottery and traditional spoon carving workshops to cooking and cocktail classes.