The fame of Nave do Barão’s wine dates back to 1266, fifteen years after the conquest of the Algarve, when King Afonso III granted a charter to Loulé. According to the historian Isilda Martins, “the king set aside the best vineyards to himself, one of which was Nave do Barão’s and its preserved secret about his cherished wine”. This was supposedly one of the few wines served to King Afonso III and later on to its successor King Denis.
Over the centuries Nave do Barão’s wine was the main source of income for the villagers, given that the wide tilled plain near the village was completely filled with vineyards from which would be produced the famous wine. This wine would reach high levels of alcohol due to winemaking techniques and the strong maturation of the grapes during the sunny and hot summer.
The vineyards were however affected by phylloxera during the 19th century, a disease caused by the insect Penphigus vitifoliae which is known to attack the subterranean part of the plant. Therefore, the Lagoa da Nave became the area reserved for vineyards for being a place where the dreaded disease wouldn’t spread so easily due to the proximity of the small lake formed during winter and lasting until May.
Although the vineyard area was reduced, there are still today some villagers who keep producing the famous Nave do Barão’s wine using the old techniques: the pink-coloured wine derived from the fermentation of skins or the dark-coloured infusion wine.