Recognized in Portugal and abroad, Port wine is an essential symbol of our country. Get to know the region where it is produced and immerse yourself in these places full of history and tradition, where you can event try your hand at producing it.
The Port Wine Route takes you on a trip of discovery through various points of interest located in the Douro Region and in neighboring counties which, directly or indirectly, are related to the wine culture.
Started on 21 September 1996, the Port Wine Route includes producers, wine bars, tourist facilities in rural areas, river cruise operators and restaurants, among others. In these sites you will be able to try the famous Port wine, together with the DOC Douro, Moscatel and sparkling wines.
The history starts at the beginning of the trip
Douro was then first designated wine producing region, a status it obtained in 1756. The terraces across the region mark a notable passage to the landscape of Alto Douro, in North-Eastern Portugal, built in a stunning dialogue between man and nature. The region is World Heritage Site, a title it received in 2001 from UNESCO. Here the winters are cold and in summer the temperatures often reach 40º.
The region, 250 thousand hectares marked by a multitude of microclimates, is divided into three sub-regions which vary greatly in terms of temperature and rainfall: Baixo-Corgo, Cima-Corgo and Douro Superior.
There are many ways to reach the region of Douro and the choice is yours. Tracking the river by car on winding roads which follow the Douro’s course is, without a doubt, a good introduction to the region. This should be done with time, not only to fully enjoy the landscapes, which are unique in the world, but also to stop at viewpoints to appreciate the farms and sun of the region.
If you prefer the train, male a historic journey in locomotives from the beginning of the XX century. The Douro Line is around 200 Km and, depending on the section, passes close to the river. Enjoy your passage through the Pinhão station, turned into a wine house, in order to buy wines and gourmet products from the region and admire the fantastic tile panels representing rural scenes on the building’s exterior.
Formerly, Port Wine was transported by the river Douro and now the same river can be your route fir discovering the Port Wine Route. The boats going up the Douro leave from Porto, from the Cais de Gaia, and dock on the bank for visitors to get to know the local heritage. Prices vary from 60 Euros (one day) to 1000 Euros (8 days, in a boat-hotel).
Discovering Port Wine
Port Wine is a fortified wine, produced under specific and unique conditions, which is still traditionally made, obtained by stopping the fermentation and adding brandy where blending and aging continue to be very important.
Port Wine is distinguished from common wines due to its specific characteristics, including its high alcohol content (between 19 and 22% of volume), and the high persistence of flavor and taste.
Port Wines are divided into the following categories:
- Ruby: with a fruity aroma and strength of young wines, which can be saved for later as they age well in a bottle;
- Tawny: obtained by blending wines aged in casks or vats. The older the wine, the more pronounced these characteristics, however, when bottled, they may be immediately consumed;
- Branco: may present various styles, related to the aging periods and the different degrees of sweetness. The driest ones are used as aperitifs and also in various cocktails.
- Rosé: made from red grapes, they should be consumed fresh, with ice or mixed with other beverages.
Port Wine is an art which you can see on site when participating in the grape harvest, in September/October. In the Demarcated Region of Douro, various farms open their doors to visitors during this time of year. Take part in the grape harvest and closely observe a tradition which has spanned generations.
The harvest is the most lively and important event of the Douro valley. It is work and simultaneously a feast for the people of Douro. In the lagaradas the concertina is played and sung, setting the pace for the traditional stepping.
The Port Wine business, which started being sent in Rabelo boats from Douro to Porto in the XIII century, to then continue to far-flung destinations and delight other people, specifically the English, allowed for the construction and recovery of a beautiful and rich heritage.
Culture and Gastronomy will accompany you along the way
In the region of Douro, wine tourism today focuses environmental, cultural and local gastronomy dimensions of the wine.
When visiting the region, you will surely not remain indifferent to the sun, convents and churches, to the rich and diversified architecture – there are Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque properties. Viewpoints will be mandatory stopping points, in order to enjoy the landscape. The museums, wince bars, wine tasting centers, wine hotels and typical rural tourism houses compete the offer of the Port Wine Route.
Visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Remedies, in Lamego, the Casa de Mateus, in Vila Real – known throughout the world as it appears on the wine label of the Mateus Rosé –, and the Tarouca Monastery. The natural parks of Alvão, International Douro and the more recent centers of rock art in the Côa River are other points of interest not to be missed, which due to their landscape beauty and existing diversity allow for many different open air activities.
Spend the night in a farmhouse with a unique environment. You can stay, for example, in the Pacheca Farm or Quinta Nova Nossa Senhora do Carmo. The Pacheca Wine House Hotel, in Lamego, is in a 51 hectare farmhouse full of vineyards which stretch down to the river Douro and this is an excellent choice for those looking for intense experiences, with scenes full of soul and history and the main building is a typical house from the XVIII century, whose traditional architecture has been maintained. As this is a boutique hotel dedicated to food and wine tourism, wine will always be featured.
Douro is also the synonym of good eating. Taste the regional bread baked in wood-fired ovens, sausages, Lamego and Vila Real meatballs, excellent river fish, Mirandesa meat dishes, Maronesa meat, lamb and sausages and, as might be expected, many convent sweets.
At the Route Office, the Port Wine Institute, in Peso da Régua, and regional tourist offices, you can ask for additional information. And we are also available to help plan this trip which will surely be unforgettable. Contact us!