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Manuel I reputedly introduced the concept of quintas in the early 16th century when he built the Quinta da Bacalhoa. Eventually, this quinta fell into disrepair and vandals carted off many of its decorations, specifically the antique tiles.

An American woman bought the mansion before World War II and worked for years to restore it to its original condition. Some architectural critics have suggested that the palace is the first example of the Renaissance in Portugal.

Bacalhoa is a private villa, but the gardens are open to the public on request when you arrive, for a small fee. The quinta's farmland is devoted to vineyards owned by J. M. da Fonseca, International-Vinhos, Ltda., makers of Lancers wine. There are two J. M. da Fonseca wineries, .8km (1/2 mile) apart: the "mother house," as it's called, and a newer plant. The century-old Fonseca wineries have made their product from grapes grown on the slopes of the Arrábida Mountains since the early 19th century. The top product is a muscatel called Setúbal, rarely sent abroad but well regarded by wine connoisseurs.

The original winery and warehouses are in the center of Azeitão, as is the classic 19th-century house (also a quinta) that was the Fonseca family home. A little museum and public reception room on the ground floor of the house are open to visitors. This museum (consisting mainly of unimportant antique paintings, plus a scattering of artifacts related to the history of winemaking at the quinta) is worth visiting only if you are already there viewing the gardens.