Lisbon is like an assault on the senses – a city you cannot leave without being affected by it.

New Review from Norway in Abc Nyheter

Text: Bjørn Moholdt


PORTUGAL: Julia Kemper is unable to free herself from Lisbon. Even when she took over the family estate Quinta do Cruzeiro in the Dão wine district, two to three hours away by car, the pull of the city was too strong for her.

In addition, the lawyer and winemaker is practical, even if she doesn’t seem like it at first glance. The charming and energetic woman talks in breath and out, and most of all about what is closest to her heart: the brilliant wines from the farm she occasionally stays at.

We meet in Julia Kemper Wines’ showroom – or “embassy” as she calls it – in the heart of Bairro Alto, “the high district” where many – both visitors and residents – like to end up as the day turns to evening.

– I’m really a city girl, says the winemaker and pours generously into the glass from the bottle that bears her name.

She makes the wine in the country, but it is in the city that it comes into its own.

Out of sight…
The apartment building where we meet has no name or number. Nor any sign that testifies to activities inside. The facade is white and smooth, but little else hints at what is inside the building.

– Those who are invited find out anyway, Julia says with a secretive, small smile.

The place she invites customers and other groups to is located high up in Bairro Alto, the old district created at the time Portugal emerged as one of the world’s most powerful nations – thanks to the country’s intrepid adventurers such as Henry the Navigator and Vasco da Gama.

The rickety, often beautifully decorated buildings, in many places marred by tagging and graffiti, have this charm that we Norwegians love. At street level, there are small busy eateries and bars side by side with arts and crafts and vegetable shops. The atmosphere is cozy and forgiving. You feel safe.

– There is something liberatingly simple about Lisbon, especially here in Bairro Alto, explains Julie. – Everything you need can be found within a short walk.

After more than two years as a lawyer in Sao Paolo in Brazil, Julia turned her nose back home. Among his six children, the father chose her – for unknown reasons (“perhaps he thought I was more enterprising than the others?”) – as heir to the quinta. Over the past 15 years, she has turned it into one of the country’s most reputable vineyards – thanks in large part to the organic arrangement.

– Life as a lawyer was tough, but was pure baby food compared to the wine business. Maybe that’s why I love coming into the city when the opportunity arises? Out of sight out of mind, sort of.

Royal reception
Julia Kemper uses the apartment building in Bairro Alto because many of those who visit her from abroad also want to visit the capital. With that, she kills two birds with one stone.

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