Inês Matos Andrade | 2020-07-29

7 Reasons to return to Malhadinha Nova

1. Exploring an estate with 450 hectares

Yes, you read that right, the Herdada da Malhadinha Nova extends over 450 football fields, in Alentejo. That means that even if you make use of all the resources available for exploring the Estate – quadbike, horse, bicycle or buggy – you will hardly know your way around the house in a week’s stay. What started as being a terrain in ruins, bought by the Soares family in 1998, has become one of better cared pieces of land in Alentejo. Living freely here are 50 black pigs, 150 cows, 300 black and white merino sheep, 30 pure blood Lusitano horses, 60 hectares of traditional olive grove over 50 years old and 80 hectares of vineyard. There are also five houses for lodging, a family house, a restaurant and a winery.

2. Living in one of the five new villas

Casa do Ancoradouro, Casa das Artes e Ofícios, Casa da Ribeira, Casa das Pedras and Venda Grande. These are names of the new villas from Herdade da Malhadinha Nova, each with its own charm, identity, and features. The Casa do Ancoradouro has seven suites, is a house dedicated to terracotta, highlighting this material from the floor to the dinnerware. The Casa das Artes e Ofícios has two suites in a mezzanine, a living room with an imposing height and walls in green clay. Everything in this house has a social context, from the chandeliers to the ceramics, or even the works from social and cultural project Manicómio. In Casa das Pedras, the architect Joana Raposa drew a building with four independent suites, the golden hues blending with the surrounding scenery’s colours. The Casa da Ribeira has three suites, inspired by the Terges river, reflecting the serenity of the blues and greys. The long corridor that guides you to the rooms, and the sunlight exposure reveal the beauty of the whitewashed walls, a traditional practice inherited from the Muslims.

3. Discovering centuries old stories and local handcrafts

The ruins scattered throughout the Ancoradouro’s estates, that the Soares family acquired in 2008, tell many stories about the region. One of them is the origin of the Casa da Artes e Ofícios, rising next to the Terges river and where in the past the Albernoa villagers used to bake bread and wash clothing. Also present in every house is the Alentejo legacy, with renovated vintage furniture, bakeries, olive oil drums, frames with music sheets from the conservatory or centuries old pianos. Rita Soares is an interior design lover and loves to visit old and abandoned houses, discovering the stories told there, who lived there and what do the object tell. It is her that regularly visits the neighbourhoods artisans, be it António Mestre, the master potter from Beringel, or the art of bulrush, an autochthonous plant used in basketry and gains here more contemporary formats in a partnership with modern designers, like in the art of hand-sewing the Alentejo boots of Mário Grilo, a nominee to one of the Cultural Seven Wonder of Portugal.

4. Participating in the harvest

August bring a magical time to the viticulture process: the harvest. Although the caring for the vineyard is a continuous, year-long work, it is at this time that there is a bigger bustle at Herdade da Malhadinha Nova and in farms and estates in Alentejo in general. Harvest at Malhadinha Nova is nocturnal, which means that to participate in this moment you need to be an early riser. Four, five or seven o’clock in the morning are some of the possible times for you to join our employees pruning and join in on filling the 12 kilograms of grapes that wil be sent to the winery afterwards. Malhadinha will provide you with everything you need: The Harvest Kit (50€) includes a pruning scissors, water, torch, backpack, t-shirt, and other items that will prepare you for a unique moment. And because the chain of events does not end here, it is possible to foot press the grapes or select the best grapes in the choosing table.

5. Learn Alentejo cooking with an excellent cook

Vitalina Santos is a cook and she is responsible for traditional recipes at Malhadinha Nova. Together with resident Chef Rodrigo Madeira and Consultant Chef Joachim Koerper, forming the trilogy that guarantees the best gastronomic moments. Apart from the restaurant, the Chef at the Villa service or the possibility to try a Tasting Menu from the comfort of the rooms, Malhadinha’s guest can also get their hands dirty and learn how to make traditional Alentejo bread, bread with chouriço, or one of Vitalina’s specialties, the traditional sericaia sweet (egg pudding). At the Country House’s counter or Ancoradouro’s, with the Estate serving as background behind the showcooking kitchen, a whole world of culinary possibilities is opened. Crumbs, Eggs with farinheira, Alentejo Pork are some of the traditional dishes, but the recipe and activity list never run out. It is possible, for example, go fishing with the Chef Rodrigo Madeira on the Terges river, catch some fine larches, learn to cook fillets of this sweet water fish and finish on the table, with a recipe developed by you.

6. Take refuge in Nature

It is easy to understand that in an imposing extension of land like the one that Herdade da Malhadinha Nova has become in the last 22 years; Nature is the keyword. Those who chose a maximum privacy stay, can never cross paths with anyone else for days, a very requested luxury in a pandemic moment like the one we are living right now. The open air, nature, the aroma, and colours of Alentejo turn this place unique. The smell of holm oaks, of rock rose, of lavender, of pennyroyal, all of them endogenous plants and abundant in the estate, inebriate your senses. Apart from the farm animals, there is a vast wildlife that tun this idyllic place even more authentic: the foxes, partridges, mangooses, cranes, artards, live freely at Malhadinha Nova. And if the day reveals all this telluric and natural potential, the night comes bearing gifts that few inhabitants of the city that boast knowing: the cosmos filled with stats, shooting stars, the peaceful silence.

7. Supporting National projects

Now more than never, 2020 brought with it challenges and unpredictable changes. Much can be done in the search to better the current panorama – Malhadinha Nova was one of the first to donate 25.000€ through the AMA Campaign in the fight against COVID-19 – small gestures are essential and determining in the recovering of the national economy. Consuming Portuguese products and putting to practice the old rule of “take a holiday inland” is doing just that. Malhadinha Nova is a three-generation project, family-run and Portuguese, responsible for the renovation and promotion of the interior, that prioritizes organic agriculture and extensive farming in an incessant search for sustainability and environmental concern. Throughout two decades of existence, Malhadinha Nova put Beja and Alentejo on the map with its awards and internationally praised wines. It supports Portuguese projects and artisans, promoting ancient techniques of pottery, weaving, woodwork, among other crafts, preserving autochthonous materials like clay and bulrush.

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