The Heart of Alentejo

João and Rita Soares

Malhadinha Nova

The Heart of Alentejo

The first impact of the Malhadinha estate is enough to convince you to stay – a landscape of olive trees, infinite hills and complete calm and peace. Then you begin driving up those hills that take you to the guest house – and that's when you're completely captured...

Text: Guen Murroni

The Heart of Alentejo
‘We wanted to make something new, still traditional, but with a modern feel...’


MALHADINHA was created by João and Rita Soares in 1998: “We started from nothing, there were no vineyards, no electricity... we had a dream and we just began building it”, explains João.


Coming from the distribution side of spirits in Alentejo, they wanted to produce their own wine. It took two years to build the winery and find the collaborators to work and exchange their ideas with.


They learned as they went along, hiring young wine makers – three to be exact – and travelling to learn and be up to date with the modern trends in wine making. As an added element they’ve also decided to open their winery to guests and clients, which is a totally new experience for the area.


“We wanted to make something new, still traditional but with a modern feel...” continues Rita. The collaboration with young passionate people gives Malhadinha a fresh touch, along with the knowledge of consultants such as Bruno Antunes and chef Vitalina Santos.


The wine adventure turned out to be such a success that they decided to embark on a new project in 2008 – building the guest house. “We don't just offer a room, for one night, we want to offer something different...”, says João.


At Malhadinha you can create your own experience: horse riding,walks, balloon rides, adventures in the region and of course fine dining and cooking workshops.


Food is of course a very an important part of the project: “Most of the products we use are the ones we produce here”, Malhadinha breed its own free range livestock, like black pigs for the production of pata negra, a local meat speciality, and lately Lusitano horses. In doing so, Rita and João, take advantage of Baixo Alentejo's optimal weather conditions and land and add their own modern touch to present high quality products in line with tradition. 


The philosophy at the foundation of Malhadinha is based on family: “Our oldest daughter is 15 years old, Malhadinha started when she was born” says Rita. As well as producing wine, their dream began with the desire to have a place to spend time with their family, and it is exactly that relaxed and familiar vibe that makes it such a special place. “All the labels are drawn by our children... we try to pass to them what Malhadinha is, a family project, we want them to be involved and leave the dream to them...”.


Rita and João definitely lead busy lives, they export to 25 countries and are on their way to having a fifth member of the family, their determination and passion, and a natural calm disposition, seems to be the perfect base to run an important business.


“We know what we want” says Rita, and it's this control backed up by an impeccable taste, curiosity and drive that makes Malhadinha as dreamy as they want it to be.


Vila Joya
Joan Roca