Everything grows out of the rolling terrain, an easy hour’s drive from Porto. Wine-loving pilgrims from the world over come here to enjoy not only tawny port but also light, refreshing vinho verde, literally green wine. (That means drunk young. Actual colors are red, rosado, and white.) Quinta da Lixa’s owners weren’t initially planning to open a hotel. They were merely thinking that the two dilapidated outbuildings a stone’s throw away from the main house might make great guesthouses for friends. Ultimately, however, an impressive proposal convinced the owners to hire FCC’s Fernando Castro Coelho and Paulo Lobo, frequent collaborators, to design a luxury hotel. In other words, to transform Quinta da Lixa into a major stop along the Vinho Verde Route.
Reconstructed with facades combining stacked granite and schist with pine, the pair of outbuildings have grown to accommodate 29 guest rooms and a suite. Meanwhile, the expanded main house is unrecognizable behind a facade of pine slats and Cor-Ten steel, a complement to agrarian architecture nearby, punctuated by expanses of glass framing “paintings, photographs of the landscape,” Coelho says. He also excavated to add two full levels. That brings the total to four levels, containing the lobby and reception, a gourmet restaurant, a convivial bar, a graceful spa, and even conference facilities in addition to the winery proper, with its tasting rooms and its dramatically curved fermentation room lined with big oak barrels.
The architecture stands out while standing back. Subtle rhythms and well balanced contrasts create a harmony between rural history and an urbane contemporary aesthetic. Against a backdrop of predominantly clear-finished pine, the colors are earthy, dappled with the vineyard’s springtime green and autumnal russet. The combination defers to the scenery and the pleasures of the Portuguese palate. “Vines and wines are the ‘calling card’ of the enterprise,” Coelho says. Lobo adds, “We’re promoting direct contact with the scenery and cultural heritage of wine production.” That’s why the lobby rains leaves, creating an exuberant and celebratory heart. And why the seasonal shades of green and russet were actually Pantone-matched to vine leaves.