The region in Portugal is located between the capital Lisbon in the north, the border with Spain in the east, the Algarve region in the south and the Atlantic Ocean in the west. Within the area defined as DOC, with 20,000 hectares of vineyards, there are eight sub-areas: Borba, Évora, Granja-Amareleja, Moura, Portalegre, Redondo, Reguengos and Vidigueira. These were previously declared as independent DOC areas (which still appears on older labels), but are now listed as optional sub-areas alongside the Alentejo DOC area. The entire region is also classified as IGP (formerly VR) for local wines under the name Alentajano.
Wine-growing in this area was already established by the Phoenicians long before the turn of the century. The Romans who followed named the newly conquered province Lusitania and brought their knowledge of viticulture and vines with them. After the Roman rule, however, viticulture had a shadowy existence for many centuries. Until the end of the 1970s, Alentejo was not known for its wine, but mainly for its vast wheat fields (hence the name "breadbasket of Portugal"), for its numerous olive trees and for the cork oak forests scattered throughout the wheat fields. More than half of the world production of cork comes from Portugal, and by far the largest part of it comes from Alentejo.
There are some huge wineries here with several hundred hectares of vineyards. Well known producers are Cartuxa, Cortes de Cima, Herdade de Mouchão, Herdade do Esporão, João Portugal Ramos (Marqués de Borba, Vila Santa), José da Sousa (owned by Fonseca) and Quinta do Carmo (owned by "Domaines Barons de Rothschild").