What do you do here
at the manor house?
The manor house began with tourism. My father gave me the house in 1980. I renovated it between 1980 and 1986. Then the first guests began to arrive. The very first guest unfortunately passed away in 2018. It was the prime minister of the Netherlands, Ruud Lubers. A great friend. We remained friends over the years, he came here several times; I went there several times. Today, many of our guests come from the Netherlands.
They come from the
Netherlands for a range of reasons, right?
Yes. I have been involved in international cooperation projects in which the Netherlands has also been part. When I renovated the house I also founded TURIHAB, which today has 120 houses nationwide, and its headquarters in Ponte de Lima. These are old houses, manor houses. This is an association that supports the environment, heritage, and sustainability. Tourism is a great help and, at the same time, we also develop products made at the house. We have the fruit and vegetable gardens, the vineyard, chestnut trees, animals, and even the lavender patch (he laughs). The fruit is made into jams, which are what give to tourists; the vegetables become the accompaniments of the food we serve and the wine is for celebrating. We develop our ‘microeconomy’, for it to then create self-sustainability and organic products, which today are in great demand.
Does the Paço de
Calheiros produce wine only for its own consumption?
At this moment we don’t sell it yet. It is made for our own consumption. We have two types of wine made from the Loureiro grape variety: the Quinta do Paço Calheiros and the Conde de Calheiros. My father founded the Ponte de Lima cooperative winery, so we would send the grapes to the winery. Six years ago, my son remembered that we made wine and revived the practice. It is a successful wine. We introduce vinho verde to our tourists.
There is also a very
special ‘friend’ who welcomes tourists... we are talking about the Leão, the
The dogs we have at home have always been called Leão (Lion in English). I don’t know if this was out of some atavistic desire to have a Lion. In my father’s they bred hunting dogs. Then, in our generation, we had Serra da Estrela dogs. Then the Labrador came along. This Labrador is still alive, and ever since this one came along too, which was a gift from Dom Duarte – who is friend of mine – we have been left with a problem. We named him Leão. My son even said, «dad, you can’t name him Leão because when you call the dog they won’t know which one you are calling and they’ll both come.” I told him: «Oh Francisco, the boy is called Francisco, and his father is also called Francisco, and that’s not why we don’t know who’s calling for us» (he laughs). So we had to distinguish them. As this one was given to us by Dom Duarte then it was renamed Rei Leão (King Lion). Thus we have Leão and Rei Leão.
«I can still do a lot for the region, especially for Ponte de Lima»