The Douro Valley in Portugal is one of the most incredible wine regions we have traveled to thus far. The valley sprawls with immense landscapes that include images of rolling hills and beautiful "quintas" along the way. The area is known as the “magnificent valley”, that comes with a rich heritage. In fact, the whole valley has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
But the history of the Douro region is long and complicated. Their ancient roots of wine making have evolved over many years, making the region famously known for their rich port wines. And as talented and perfected as these ports are, it’s not all they are known for.
In fact, in the last decade many wineries have been working rigorously to showcase a different side of the Douro Valley wines. More and more wine makers are findin themselves exploring the full potential of the Douro’s terroir for a different style of wine. Something different from the heavy Ports that most people are use to sipping. Think: sugar, heat, and high alcohol percentages) a new, light, refreshing wine is taking place.
It’s all in great timing as the world becomes more curious about wine and as the Douro Valley has started to note high numbers in tourism in the last few years. Along with producing new, lighter wines, the region is now committed more than ever to show the world a new era of wine experiences.
Before you take off, head to Taylor's Fladgate to get a real scent of Portguese wine culture. You'll learn everything from the terroir to the way the Portuguese started in their wine expeditions.
At your first stop, make it at Quinta do Panascal. With wonderful views of Portugal’s countryside, you’ll find this vineyard along your twisty two lane adventure that curves in and out of the region. If you are lucky enough to be here during the grape-harvesting season, you can catch a glimpse of the grape treading in the “lagares." This is where Fonseca Port wine is still produced the traditional way. Now that…is something speculator.
Next on your wine tour should be that of Quinta da Nápoles. This quinta is home to the household name of Niepoort Wines. Located along the banks of the Tedo River, the production here is rather impressive. The winery works with nature, using energy-efficient and sustainable methods and solar panels. Through using a gravity-system through holes in the ground line, the grapes slide in and fall down into the barrels for fermentation. Instead of pumping the grapes from one tank to another, this system allows the the grapes to travel from one floor to the next through the stages of the winemaking, maturation and aging. Through this intricate wine making process, you’ll find a more fresh, yet not shy taste on the palate.
Quinta da Nápoles is a great place to check out what these innovative wine producers are up to. As dedicated educators, these producers are keen on showing foreigners that the Douro region is capable of much more than just a port.
As you continue your journey, you'll most likely end up at Quinta Nova Nossa Senhora do Carmo. This quinta was featured in Condé Nast as one of top must see wineries in the world. Not only can you book a few nights here, but their impressive wine selection will make you never want to leave. You’ll find everything from sustainable gastronomy in the kitchen, to 5-star services and amenities. It’s no wonder that Quinta Nova is one of the best.
Take a final stop at Quinta da Roêda, which is home to Croft’s flagship vineyard estate in Pinhão in the heart of the Douro Valley. Now resigned in the Roêda’s old stables, the quinta resembles the old traditional Douro Valley style. You can try some of Croft’s renowned port wines. Or taste some of the estate’s local homemade olive oil on one of their many lovely terraces.
As we start to see the consumer of the wine market rise in numbers and the popularity for food and wine travel goes up, Portugal has become one of the top destinations for 2018. We are extremely grateful to have been able to explore this incredible region and meet with winemakers, hotel owners and tour operators living and working here. With first-hand experience here, we've now been able to create unique experiences out in the Douro Valley, unlike any other. Portugal...we will be back!