Riverfront Villa / Quinta Grounds, Swimming Pool and Gardens

With 9,000 sqm of land (plus an option on plots of 1,500 sqm and 3,200 sqm more) and a long lower boundary with and providing direct access to the River Minho, along which you can easily walk to the nearby historic fortified town of Monção, plus adjacent woodland currently not fenced off (some of the woodland is also available for purchase), there are plenty of areas with which to walk and relax.

Quinta / Rio Minho January

The present owners fill the swimming pool up at the end of May as it starts to get hot and after the cork oak tree in the family garden sheds its leaves (cork oaks shed their leaves in late spring as they grow new ones - a kind of an evergreen deciduous tree). An over-winter cover could easily be added but it is probably simpler just to fill the pool up over 2 days from the mains water (at a cost of around 40 Euros, metered water). An adjacent pool house shelters the filtration system and also is where the main valves are for the various irrigation systems around the grounds. There are drip emitter lines for the fruit trees, vines, driveway rose borders and several other areas. The large bank area has sprinklers divided into three sections. The rock garden has a spray system. Various irrigation water faucets are strategically placed around the grounds, as are a few faucets connected to the mains water. In case the irrigation pump fails, the main irrigation system can be switched over to mains water.

Upper (new) land just above driveway

The above photo shows the extra land offered in Option 1 (see price page). This land sits above the entrance drive and has a view down over the grape vines to the river below. It is perhaps perfect for two log cabins with perhaps a small guest swimming pool or tub next to the woodland (where you can also see down to the river).

A two meter high wall plus a line of established Cypress trees and several oak trees along the Eastern border basically prevent the neighbours and anyone from the approach / entrance road looking onto / into the grounds. To the West is woodland (regularly cleared floor to reduce fire risk as per the new 2008 law) which can never be built upon, although a large section of it (7,200 sqm) is available for sale if you want to own it (the local council / camara have plans to compulsory purchase some of it for public recreation grounds - see Extra Land for details). The woodland is separated from this property's main grounds by a 2 meter high wall which could have an archway and gate easily made into it, and by a 2 meter fence on the upper / additional grounds. Currently only tractor paths serve this woodland, so it is very quiet, although the existing owners do hunt rabbit and duck there occasionally. To the south the present owners bought the adjacent overlooking land and sectioned the closest part of it off with a 2 meter fence and line of Italian Cypress (can grow to 40 meters high) to extend the grounds and protect their privacy. To the north is a 2 meter boundary fence and Cypress hedge barrier with the river bank.

Neighbouring Woodland

Entrance / private driveway through the property;

A gate house / dog pen prevents anyone at the gate from seeing the house and / or the grounds. Both the double vehicle gates and side entrance gate can be viewed, opened and closed from within the property via the entry phone system; the vehicle gates also open and close with "clickers". On the outside are the water and electricity meters (all services can be paid by automated direct bank payments), plus the post box and entry phone. The gate house itself is useful for putting the dogs if you wish to open the gates for some reason and / or can be used for storage, bikes, etc. The gate house is half roofed, half open air. This is where the current owners have planted bougainvillea, to make a spectacular colourful welcome to the property and to protect the fragile plants from winter. There are actually 3 bougainvillea plants in the photo below (taken May 2010); all have survived at least one winter so should now be a stunning permanent feature of the gate house / entrance.

As you enter the grounds a wall is to the left and grape vines set on granite columns with inox archways are the to the right. A bend in the driveway then takes you between the grapevine area and the main fruit garden (with greenhouse) to the front door. With 234 wine grape vines, each capable of producing 8 to 20 bunches of grapes with roughly 4 bunches of grapes to the bottle of wine, it does not take much to work out how much wine you can produce for your own consumption (with friends). The present owners use a combination of equisetum hyemale water (they soak the plants in water for 48 hours so their natural fungicide bleaches into the water) mixed with bicarbonate of soda and a small amount of sulphate (about 20% of the normal mix per volume of water); the equisetum hyemale grows in abundance within the lower grounds down by the little stream. The grounds are organically composted with oak leaves, etc.

Fruit Tree Garden

As you can see from the picture above, the driveway is a lovely beige brown granite cobblestone; sadly this is a dying craft although they last for many hundreds of years. There is plenty of space on the south facing roof for large solar panels which could feed pipes down to the basement (lower floor) via the chimney stack. The trees in front of the house are fruiting black / red olives. The balcony, family garden, swimming pool and out of site lower outdoor granite dining area are completely fenced and gated off in case you wish to keep dogs but at a distance; they also protect children from harm (the pool and steep bank down to the river).

Harvesting Grape Vines

The driveway then goes around west of the property, past the separate garages and main dog pen area (itself with an established cork oak tree in the middle) and down behind the north of the villa, through the outdoor granite dining area, under 15 oak trees plus one sweet chestnut tree (produces an abundance of chestnuts each year), past the duck pond and summer house, past the plum tree obscured chicken house (with large cherry tree growing through the middle of it) and vegetable garden, down to the double river gates providing direct boat access to the River Minho. A lengthy granite slab walkway (extensively lined with scented Nerium Oleander bushes) goes along the river perimeter fence / cypress hedge screen, past the river water pump, a large fruit tree area and lower most section of the grounds directly adjacent to the river, itself with a small pedestrian gate providing access to the river. Three sets of granite paved steps climb up the steep bank from the lower walkway back up to the property.

Front view of villa

Between the oak / chestnut trees and the vineyard is a small garden area in which is a granite stone pergola, with granite kubos floor and granite table / benches; this enjoys views through the trees down to the river. Several flowering vines are now semi-established on it. The oak trees shed a lot of leaves each winter and these go into the three concrete compost bins (out of sight, down and to the left of the vegetable garden). Oak leaf compost is excellent and it is used on the vegetables, the lower level fruit trees and an area just past this where the current owners grow super sweet corn each year.

Summer House / Duck Pond

The duck & fish pond / irrigation tank is fed by a natural stream which tends to dry up in summer. A further stream runs under the tank and keeps the little stream down through the grounds to the river wet all year round. When and if the upper stream dries up during the summer months, there is a riverside pump (the license to pump the water is very inexpensive) which feeds the same channel we created for the natural stream. There is also an aerator in the adjacent irrigation house which can be used to ensure any fish kept in the tank get plenty of oxygen.

In the grounds there are a large selection of flowering plants and bushes such as Camellia, Gardenia, Rhododendron, Azalea, Nerium, and Magnolia. The cherry trees are also spectacular in bloom in spring along with the daffodils, tulips, crocus, flowering quince, etc. which have been planted. With the river providing excellent fishing, wild rabbit and foul (inexpensive license required to hunt them) all around the property, free range chickens and ducks in the grounds (never be short of eggs), large quantities of nuts, fruit and vegetables, it would be fairly simple to be self-sufficient food wise if you fancied the challenge. Below is the granite pergola with climbing / hanging plants to give a natural sun filter.

Granite Pergoda

The vineyard soil is perfect for the local prestigious wine variety "Alvarinho", being rich soil with a large amount of granite gravel (giving excellent drainage). The soil has never been "treated" with any chemical fertilizers, etc. to our knowledge.

Alvarinho grapes

The above is a tub of alvarinho grapes in early October 2009 which was subsequently and successfully converted to wine in time for Christmas 2009. There is something special about drinking your own wine, not least it is "free" (of tax and duty at least) plus has very few chemicals in it.

Fruit, vegetables and nuts all year round!

The grounds produce more fruit, nuts and vegetables then you can eat. There is fruit all year round; citrus (virtually every type of citrus are in the grounds) November to May, cherries / nispero May, plums / blueberries / nectarines / peaches / greengages June - July, apples / pears August - September, figs July - November, persimmon / pomegranate - November, table grapes September, Kiwi fruit November, strawberries May - August, sweet chestnuts October. There are winter vegetables, summer salads, spring through autumn vegetables, hazelnuts that keep for a year if required. There are also maturing almond, walnut and pistachio trees that should start yielding very soon, plus a couple of young pecan nut trees.

Many of the fruit trees do too well and some fruit such as nectarine and peach need thinning out when it first sets. Plumb tree branches droop all the way to the ground under the weight of the fruit. Anyone who wanted to try self-sufficiency could and immediately so, with a few animals (chickens, ducks and sheep / goats - the later replacing the need to cut the grass) and some fish from the river, it would be very easy.

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