After a week of navigating cliffside beaches, and eclectic, vibrant cites, some vinho relaxing in the valley was a welcome stop on our Portugal adventure. Our drive from the mouth of the Douro River along the Atlantic coast to hilly valley led us to a wine paradise. The Douro region is known for their port wines. Through a few of our travels, we have our fair share of ventures into a variety of wine regions, however, never have we enjoyed a proud region focused on port wines. Let our new wine education begin.
Boundaries were determined for the Douro Valley’s vineyards in 1756, making it the oldest demarcated wine region in the world. Grape harvest and wine production goes back 2,000 years, however, and the support of the people led to the vineyards’ recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The terraced fields on either side of the Douro River are breathtaking and unique to the region. With knowledge handed down from generation to generation, they inclined the terraces to expose the vines to the rays of the sun which give the grapes the warmth that the wine craves. It was from the fruits of the land and Man’s labour that this unique wine and landscape were made.The spectacular landscape are steep terraces covered in vines and dotted with wine-producing farms called quintas meaning winery (where it is often possible to get a bed for the night).
The grapes grown here are fortified with brandy, then evolves into bafflingly delicious varieties. Dry whites are great for aperitifs and cocktails. Rubies and tawnies go with cheese or chocolatey desserts. Then come vintages, LBVs, colheitas, reserves and other superior nectars. The Douro has been famed for port over 300 years. Now its table wines — especially robust reds — are generating international buzz. Wine Spectator placed two Douro reds in its 2014 world top four (a port was No. 1). In 2015, it ranked Porca de Murca red as the best buy under $20.
Our four days in the Douro was filled with navigating curvy, sometimes gravel/dirt roads as we were mesmerized by panoramic views, and enjoying tasting rooms. Probably too much driving for wine tasting, but the region is vast and full of wine! The valley hosts over 2,000 wineries! The challenge is finding the wineries that have open tasting rooms. In between the many larger, more well known wineries, are plenty of ‘mom and pop’ family owned picturesque jewels. This growing region offers a more intimate wine experience than any we have enjoyed in the past. Below are some pictures…up next…Wine Barrel Hotel Room!!!!