L’AND Vineyards
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to Katherine Kennard
reading this story



L’AND Vineyards

As the first rays of the morning sun gently edge above the horizon, a hush of spring envelops the landscape surrounding L’AND Vineyards, which has been a member of the Relais & Châteaux Association since 2023. The air carries the faint aroma of earth and grapes, promising days filled with discovery. As we traverse the winding path leading to the main building, the 15 acres of organic vineyards stretch out before us as though they were a patchwork quilt, their lush greenery swaying in the gentle breeze.

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From a distance, the silhouette of this refuge in the heart of Alentejo, Portugal, emerges as a beacon of contemporary architecture, its sleek lines blending with the natural splendour around it. With each step closer, the anticipation builds as we are met with the timeless allure of L’AND Vineyards, a place where nature and bliss converge in splendorous harmony. We are in Montemor-o-Novo, a small town steeped in history and the rugged beauty of the countryside, a one-hour drive away from Lisbon and half an hour from Évora and its historic centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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On our first steps inside the main building, we are cheerfully greeted by the staff, who then take us on a stroll around the property. We begin our journey by heading along the large hallway leading to the Café da Viagem, a wine bar and informal restaurant which opened in 2023 to become a gathering place serving lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. Before getting there, however, we are distracted by large windows revealing the winery and its protruding stainless-steel vats. It’s the first sign of wine being at the centre of this place’s ethos.

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As we continue on and step into the garden, the verdant landscape sprawls before us. The lake, which borders the entire property, sparkles like a rare jewel. The air has meanwhile become alive with the melodious chirping of birds, the gentle rustle of leaves and the distant murmur of flowing water. A symphony of sounds that soothes the soul.

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We take in this mesmerising scenery, and a sense of peace washes over us – a deep appreciation for the simple joys of nature and the quiet moments that make life worth living. Here, amidst the tranquil beauty of L’AND Vineyards, time seems to stand still, allowing us to immerse ourselves fully in the present moment.

Ten years ago, nothing you see here existed. It is amazing to see it come to life over the years. Even the lake was created by us.


After getting to know these first parts of the property, which spans approximately 66 hectares in total, we meet with José Cunhal Sendim, the founder and CEO of L’AND Vineyards.

A tall man in his late fifties with a gentle smile and docile eyes, he stretches out his hand to greet us. Directing us to the shade of the lake deck, we settle at one of the wooden tables and take in the view. José is not a man of many words, yet he is easy to talk to, and his calm, unhurried demeanour and soothing voice leave us feeling relaxed. “This landscape is one of the most important elements here,” he says as he sees us contemplating the horizon. José is very proud of the landscaping project, and it is easy to figure out why just by looking around. He worked with international firm PROAP to create a project that celebrates nature and wine in all its essence while promoting a more contemporary way of living. Peppered across the property, we see orange and olive groves, almond orchards, oak trees and pine trees, as well as shrubbery specimens that are typical of the region.

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By incorporating small, manicured plots of vines in front of the 37 suites and 7 pool villas, PROAP, together with L’AND Vineyards, found a way to bring the essence of wine almost inside without disturbing the natural balance of the land. It’s a clever way of preserving the integrity of the Alentejo countryside while offering guests an immersive experience. The culture of wine appears to be seamlessly embedded into the entire estate, providing guests with the possibility of experiencing wine tastings, visiting L’AND Vineyards’ own vineyard, as well as neighbouring ones, exploring the wine cellar and creating their own wine blend.

As we enter the wine cellar, we find warm hues of wood that are integrated with a curated selection of Portuguese wines produced from north to south, as well as international references. Gonçalo Mendes, the wine tourism manager, takes us through a wine tasting and introduces the Alentejo grape varieties L’AND Vineyards grow on their property: Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Syrah. Each variety has its own set of characteristics and unique aromas. With these in mind, guests are invited to try different varieties and eventually create their own blend. If L’AND Vineyards is welcoming a group for this specific activity, the participants indulge in a blind tasting of the different wines created. The best creation is chosen by them and taken home by the winner with a custom-made label on the bottle.

“We only produce wine for tastings and for the restaurant wine list, and we also sell it at our wine shop and cellar. We don’t sell or export it elsewhere. Our wines are produced in small quantities from organically grown grapes, harvested by hand and produced with natural yeasts in small capacity vats,” José tells us.

But the wine culture entails more than this: the L’AND Wine Club, open to a limited number of members, was created to take the art of winemaking to new heights. From being able to produce their own wine, with the help of the oenology team at L’AND Vineyards, to having their own barrel in the cellar and participating in the harvest season, each member can be a wine producer in their own right. “It’s something that is completely unique in Portugal,” José shares, as he further adds that creating exclusive wine experiences was part of the plan from the beginning.

“Ten years ago, nothing you see here existed. It is amazing to see it come to life over the years. Even the lake was created by us,” José tells us. This is perhaps the most remarkable thing about L’AND Vineyards. Everything is thought out in such detail and care that no one would guess it wasn’t there all along. As José further explains, the lake is not just there to marvel us with its beauty; it cools the air and guests are invited to swim in it, and it also serves as a sustainable water retention basin for agriculture.

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José continues to tell us about Montemor-o-Novo and his connection to the region. With roots tracing back centuries, the town stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of the Alentejo, whether for its resilience to extreme weather conditions or the need to continuously overcome economic challenges, something José knows only too well. His family on his mother’s side is originally from this region, so the young José spent many of his weekends and summers playing in the verdant fields and exploring the town and neighbouring villages.

Although the plot where L’AND Vineyards is located today belonged to his mother, there was a time when the land was occupied after the Portuguese Revolution in the late 1970s. This was a common occurrence in the Alentejo during this time, with the Agrarian Reform and orders from above that allowed workers to remain on the lands and take them over, even if there was no work to do. Two decades later, in the 1990s, the Portuguese State began returning the plots to their rightful owners. At that point, José’s mother shared the many hectares amongst her four sons, and José started taking the proper steps to make something of the piece of land he had just inherited.

Everything takes time. We had to do an environmental impact assessment, take care of licensing and plan the project.


No one who knew him would have thought his career path would take him into the world of hospitality, not even José himself. “I have no connection whatsoever with this field. I studied law in Lisbon, and I stayed there for many years working as a lawyer. The only thing that could potentially bring my attention to hospitality would be my love of architecture – I call myself a failed architect’, as there was no tradition of architects in my family. I ended up pursuing the same career my father and his father before him, who were lawyers as well. It was the easiest thing to do, so to speak,” José says.

This passion of his ended up winning a deserving place in his life. José and his brothers founded a company with their family name that would encompass the different businesses they wanted to invest in and explore, which were connected to agriculture and tourism, and thus, in 2005, L’AND Vineyards was born.

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It took another five years to see L’AND Vineyards materialise as we know it today, with new units added over the years. “Everything takes time. We had to do an environmental impact assessment, take care of licensing and plan the project,” José explains. Architecture played a key role here, not least due to José’s unwavering commitment to creating something truly extraordinary that would “endure over time” and become an example of contemporary architecture in the midst of Montemor-o-Novo.

With a keen eye for detail and an appreciation for form and function, he selected the Portuguese studio PROMONTORIO, a full-service architecture, planning, landscaping, interior design and graphics team founded in Lisbon in 1990. With several decades of knowledge and experience behind them, they were the perfect partners to craft such a special project. The plan followed a singular vision: to create a space that would not only inspire awe but also stand as a testament to architecture, wine and nature.

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Nestled in a valley looking south towards the imposing silhouette of the town’s medieval castle, the plan devised by PROMONTORIO unfolds in a harmonious array of clustered villas and terraced houses, reminiscent of the traditional rural houses often associated with agricultural and livestock-rearing activities, which served as homes for farmers, shepherds or estate owners. These are called ‘montes’ and are still a common presence in the Alentejan landscape, reflecting the region’s time-honoured way of life and close connection to the land.

Central to the design is the main building, where key hospitality services converge. Here we find the reception, the winery and wine cellar, the spa, the fine-dining Mapa restaurant with the creations of chef David Jesus, and Café da Viagem. These interior features are complemented by exterior elements such as the lake deck, the infinity pool and the sprawling land to relax and unwind.

Inspired by Mediterranean courtyards, the building was conceived as a hinged prism with its four corners cut off, adding to the dialogue between interior and exterior. Topographically speaking, the structure was strategically built to balance out the natural contours of the terrain and minimise alterations to the landscape. Notably, the expansive window of the indoor pool on the lower level appears almost as if it were a folded wall, thoughtfully designed to unveil undisturbed vistas of the landscape.

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Inside, the warmth and elegance of dark wood contrast with thick black slate sourced from the Alentejo, a combination brought about by Brazilian architect and interior designer Marcio Kogan and his studio MK27, who worked closely with PROMONTORIO.

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Founded in São Paulo, Brazil, in the late 1970s, Studio MK27 drew upon its knowledge of organic materials and craftsmanship to create interiors that speak to the sophisticated aesthetics that permeate L’AND Vineyards while distilling the essence of the surrounding region.

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From hand-woven striped rugs from nearby Reguengos de Monsaraz, their vibrant hues echoing the colours of the landscape, to intricately carved wooden furniture and handcrafted ceramics and textiles, every aspect has been thoughtfully selected to reflect the spirit of the Alentejo and celebrate its rich heritage. Elements from other designers also find their way into the concept, with lights by Tom Dixon, chairs by Portuguese designer João Serôdio, artwork by painter Michael Biberstein and bespoke wooden pieces by George Nakashima, an American woodworker, architect and furniture maker who was considered one of the leading innovators of 20th-century furniture design. “We wanted to create an interior atmosphere that would speak to the identity we were crafting for L’AND Vineyards and include both international and Portuguese design, but we try to use Portuguese products whenever possible,” José adds.

We want people to be able to feel at ease and connected to nature. How amazing it is to sit overlooking the lake, the fire crackling and the sound of nature around us! There’s nothing like it.


The spa, also designed by Marcio Kogan with natural wood and stone, emerges as yet another peaceful realm within L’AND Vineyards. With treatments and massages based on vinotherapy, a wellness practice that uses grape seeds, grape skins and grape stems that have been carefully processed and tested to be used on the skin, the spa creates a secluded atmosphere of renewal and tranquillity.

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In the distance, we hear the sound of Tibetan bowls. Enchanted by their calming cadence, we walk towards the pergola, where Vera Varela, the spa manager and wellness specialist, takes guests on a sensory journey for the mind, body and soul. Delicate linen curtains undulate with the soft breeze, as Vera’s comforting voice alongside the sound of the bowls transports us into a place of deep thought. We stand there quietly, observing, taking in this experience, before we notice a long wooden path stretching onto the water with a seating area at the edge and a fire pit. The scenery before us is hypnotising. “We want people to be able to feel at ease and connected to nature. How amazing it is to sit overlooking the lake, the fire crackling and the sound of nature around us! There’s nothing like it,” José will share later on.

I always try to understand these influences that we as a people have taken and brought home with us.


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Dinner time approaches without us even noticing it, and all paths lead to the Mapa restaurant. It is here that Portuguese chef David Jesus crafts beautiful dishes inspired by the intrepid voyages of Portuguese explorers and the exotic spices they encountered, thoughtfully combined to celebrate the bounty of each season, with a feast of flavours and textures. The regional inspiration is still there, but follows a more refined and international-based cuisine.

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From the zesty tang of locally sourced citrus to the earthy aroma of handpicked herbs, as well as the sweetness of grass-fed beef, the artisanal cheeses, and the freshest fish and seafood from Setúbal, each ingredient tells a story of terroir and tradition. “We have à la carte options, but our two tasting menus take the cake. ‘Alentejo’, devoted to Portuguese flavours with a contemporary touch, and ‘Caminhos’, which is more influenced by flavours from around the world,” David explains, as he allows us to peek inside the kitchen. Being of Indian descent himself, David identified with this gastronomic concept of finding inspiration in distant places. “I always try to understand these influences that we as a people have taken to many places and brought home with us as well.” Wine plays a pivotal role here, and the head sommelier, Pedro Durand, makes sure each choice is carefully introduced and explained, adding to the flavours of the epicurean discovery at Mapa.

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With the advancing evening, our surroundings are now filled with the chorus of nocturnal creatures – frogs croaking in symphony and unseen creatures rustling in the underbrush. The air is infused with the intoxicating scent of earth and vine, a poignant reminder of the terroir that breathes life into L’AND Vineyards. As we return to our room, we discover a feature that becomes apparent only now that night has fallen: a retractable roof right above the bed. With a simple press of a button, a square portion of the ceiling begins to gently recede. The first glimpse of the twinkling stars sparks a rush of childlike wonder, as if discovering the universe anew. And beneath the star-studded sky, we lie in awe of the beauty around us.



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