In the mid-eighteenth century, before going to India, D. Pedro de Almeida Portugal, 1st Marquis of Alorna, built Quinta da Alorna palace in 1725. The palace became the scene of major historical and cultural events that have helped shape the Portugal we know today.
D. Joao, the son of D. Pedro de Almeida, and his wife D. Leonor Tavora, were extremely dedicated to the palace and the estate grounds. He planted vineyards, and produced olive oil, planted orchards, groves of mulberry trees and gardens. Emulating the French landscape design, he created drawbridges, lakes and boxwoods - fashionable in European elite societies at the time. At the end of the eighteenth century the Alorna family used to travel by boat, up the Tagus river, taking a whole night to go from Lisbon to Almeirim. When they arrived there was always a carriage waiting for the family on the riverside to take them to the palace.
This was how they reached Quinta da Alorna a few days after the release of the Tavora family who had been imprisoned for 18 years by order of the Marquis of Pombal. It was alleged that the family had been involved in the attempted regicide at the time. D. Leonor de Almeida Lorena e Lencastre was 26 years old when she was finally released from the monastery in Chelas where she had been confined with her mother and sister for 18 years. Leonor de Almeida, poetically nicknamed Alcipe, was married in 1779 to Count Karl August von Oeynhausen in the chapel at Quinta da Alorna and spent the first years of her married life organizing important soirees for the cultural Portuguese elite at their palace in Almeirim.
Later she traveled to Paris, Vienna, southern France, Madrid and finally to London, where she was exiled during the French invasion. Leonor, Fourth Marchioness of Alorna, was the most educated woman of her time. While imprisoned in the monastery of Chelas, she learned to speak five languages fluently and she read every book she could gain access to, whether prohibited or not. Leonor dazzled the courts of Europe with her poetic talent, being the first pre-romantic writer in Portugal. She was seen as a woman of letters and enlightenment, a woman who influenced politics both Portuguese and foreign, and due to her persistent dedication to education, persuaded the Queen at the time to open the first all girls schools in Portugal. A disconcertingly smart woman who was way ahead of her time, Leonor died in 1839 leaving behind eight children, and a vast literary and epistolary collection. When Quinta da Alorna experienced financial difficulties during the devastation of civil war, it was sold by Leonor´s daughters to Jose Dias Leite Sampaio, Viscount Junqueira, who invested in the production of olive oil, wine and livestock.
The Agricultural Society of Alorna, was established in 1915 after the death of the daughter of the Viscount, Countess of Junqueira. The inability of the Countess to produce an heir resulted in the palace being inherited by six of the Viscount´s relatives. Three years later, in 1918 the property was acquired by new owners, among them, a doctor, dentist and entrepreneur, Dr. Manuel Caroca, who became, in a short time, the sole owner of the palace and estate, buying shares from other shareholders. Fernanda Caroca, the daughter of Manuel Caroca, married Professor Doctor Faustus Lopo de Carvalho, a renowned pulmonologist and contemporary of Egas Moniz, who took charge of the management of the palace and estate at Quinta da Alorna, returning it to its previous grandeur. The couple had three children and, as grandchildren of Manuel Caroca, they became heirs to Quinta da Alorna.
In 1945, after the death of Dr. Manuel Caroca, the property was taken over entirely by the daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren. After the revolution on 25 April 1974, Quinta da Alorna survived difficult periods and both the strength and determination of the workers, who had seen their homes and livelihoods threatened, were essential to guarantee that the estate was not going to be occupied by the revolutionaries. As a family business that was proud of the fact that they considered everyone as part of the same ´family´ they had a social policy that was very advanced for its time. They opened up the doors of the chapel to the public, gave new houses to the employees and hired a doctor to ensure the health of all who dedicated their lives to the property and to the family.
Currently, Quinta da Alorna comprises three companies run by 4th and 5th generations of the family Lopo de Carvalho. The Agricultural Society of Alorna SA that owns the other companies in the group was formed at the beginning of the twentieth century and is responsible for the agricultural and forestry activities of Quinta da Alorna. Quinta da Alorna Wines Ltd. is responsible for the main activity of the group, namely the production and marketing of wines. Alornatur Ltd. manages the two wine shops, one in Lisbon and the other in Almeirim, as well as the Palacio da Quinta, which is used for promotional purposes or private functions.
Owned for five generations by Lopo de Carvalho family, Quinta da Alorna is a company that proudly showcases its tradition, its history and its products. It’s a story full of stories just as Marchioness of Alorna who was a wonderful storyteller.