this is Alentejo

my story


I am Maureen Ferguson, an American, living and loving life in Portugal (you can read my Love Letter to Portugal here).

Several years ago, I followed my heart to this beautiful land full of tiles and fado, forests and beaches, castles and vineyards. Moving meant that I had to leave some beloved things behind (real barbecue, Whole Foods, coffee-to-go), including a long and beloved career in the hospitality industry.

For more than a decade, I co-owned a small restaurant group that included quick-casual and full-service concepts as well as gourmet markets and catering. In early 2011, after a 12-year run, I sold the business and followed a lifelong dream to live in Paris. Feeling like I needed to refresh my creative spirit, I studied fiction and creative non-fiction, specifically food and travel writing, as part of the Paris American Academy writer’s program.

Missing tacos, BLTs and the soaking humidity of an East Coast summer, I headed back to Philadelphia and started consulting for lots of different types of companies, namely arts, culture & design, and co-founded a media start-up. But restaurant friends kept calling – was I interested in managing? No. Consulting? Maybe. And so began version 2.0 of my hospitality career.

My life took another turn when I fell in love with João, a Portuguese tech entrepreneur, originally from Alentejo (Evora), then living in the States. Our fate was sealed when on our third date, he showed up with morcela, farinheira and alheira and proceeded to cook an unforgettable feast. I had found my man!

Together, we traveled often to Portugal. I fell in love with it – the country, the culture, and of course the cuisine. In 2014 we moved to Portugal full time and it is here that we find ourselves – splitting our time between a historic house on a hilltop in Lisbon, and our organic farm, Monte do Ceitil, nestled in the heart of the vineyards and villages of Alentejo.

With Grape Olive Pig, I hope to share with you my love of Portugal, of food and wine that is still made by hand the traditional way, and to capture the soulful stories behind the people that work so hard to produce it.


food and wine experiences in Lisbon & Alentejo

   PT +351 916 362 338   US +1 215 292 8138

   PT +351 916 362 338   US +1 215 292 8138