Stunning landscapes, centuries-old traditions, and some of the world’s best wines. The Douro region is a living monument, where nature embraces culture in an inimitable way. It is also the birthplace of the renowned Port wine and the beginning of your wonderful journey!
Upon your arrival at Porto you will be transferred to Pinhão, a small village in the heart of the Douro Valley. Your hotel is a sophisticated Manor house that used to serve as a Port wine storage back in the 18th century – extremely well situated in a privileged riverfront location, the hotel is surrounded by centuries-old wine estates.
The long story hidden behind the label of every Porto or Douro wine starts in its vines. At Quinta Nova, walking across the vineyards, you will learn about the schist soil, the specific angle on the slopes and the wide climate variations, all very special aspects of this terroir – the first region in the world to be granted a Controlled Denomination Origin label (D.O.C.). Then it’s time to put your hands to work and make your own wine! Under the supervision of the wine maker, you will make the blending, bottling, corking and labeling and, at the end, you will take the wine home with you … A very memorable and special experience! Enjoy a superb alfresco lunch over one of the most spectacular views of the valley and its river.
Quinta do Castro is one of the most emblematic wine estates of the Douro Valley. Nestled in a privileged location in the Douro Demarcated Region, this estate dates back to ancient times – the name “Crasto” is derived from the Latin word “castrum”, which means “Roman fort”. The quinta has belonged to the same family for over a century. Their passion for wine making has granted them several national and international awards. Vinha da Ponte red wine received 95 points by acclaimed wine critic Robert Parker and Vinha Maria Teresa (2009) and Touriga Nacional (2010), 94 points !
Your discovery of Douro landscape continues by boat – in a traditional wooden rabelo – that will slowly make its way up the river to take you to the region’s most beautiful hillsides and famous wine estates or quintas. Douro’s human landscape and its history are two parts of the same story, as you will learn by observing the manmade terraces and its schist walls. It’s breathtaking!
The Cistercian monks settled in the south bank of the Douro Valley in the 12th century. Their monasteries have left their mark on the region along with the surrounding lands they planted with vineyards. The centuries passed, yet the vineyards remained, surrounded by cloisters which you will explore during the day. Visit S. João de Tarouca, the first monastery in the region, built in the 12th century and then take a stroll to the roman bridge. In the closed village of Britiandes you will be welcomed at Casa de Santo António, whose history dates back from the 16th century. You are invited to the spectacular granite kitchen where you might join the two old ladies in preparing a roasted baby goat so famous in this region and some cakes made with olive oil. During the lunch you will taste the wines of the house. Later, you can visit two wine-growing villages (aldeias vinhateiras), so called because of their cultural and traditional ties to the Douro wine region: Salzedas and then Ucanha with its unique towered bridge. Later you will be welcomed at Morgadio da Calçada dating back from 1680 and which still retains the atmosphere of the great vineyard houses of the Douro region. The owners (who are from the same family) will lead you to the old granite kitchen to taste the homemade sausages prepared in the smoking chimney. It’s now time to listen to old stories about the House and the Douro people while savoring some great wines. A fantastic dinner awaits you in the dining room illuminated by candles. A memorable scenario for your Douro farewell diner!
En route to Porto you will visit Mateus Palace, the most spectacular baroque Portuguese Manor house where art and wine create a perfect synthesis in a baroque atmosphere complemented by restful gardens. Porto is a lovely hillside city with ornate Baroque churches, blue-and-white tiled facades, opulent palaces, and lively quay-side restaurants. A walking tour will acquaint you with its neighborhoods, and you’ll dip in and out of historic bookstores, art deco café, ceramic-tiled train station, and outdoor food market. The famous Port wine cellars, a fascinating collection of warehouses built during the course of the 17th and 18th centuries, are situated on the other bank of the river, at Vila Nova de Gaia, an area with a climate perfect for the maturation of wine. Visiting these cellars is truly an experience for the senses. At Taylor’s you’ll see the various aging methods, including cigar-shaped barrels called “pipes” for tawny, and massive oak casks for ruby. Afterwards you will delve into the styles of Porto and learn the differences between Ruby, Tawny, Late-Bottled Vintage (LBV), and Vintage. Port wine pairing is a creative domain as you can experience it with almonds, cheese and different chocolates.
Your visit to Porto will include the striking contemporary creations of world-famous architects, from the 20th century works of the Portuguese contemporary architecture masters from Escola do Porto to the city’s most recent architectural landmark, Casa da Música, an acclaimed project by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas.
If you wish to tailor this tour, you might be interested in knowing all the experiences and travel ideas we have thought of for you: please have a look and let us know if you have something different in mind!