The Douro wine region is located around the area called “Tras-os-Montes e Alto Douro” in the northwest of the country. A mountainous region with one of the hardest climates of the Iberian Peninsula, cold in winter and very warm in the heart of summer. This region has also been for many centuries one of the poorest in Portugal, which today allows it to be in the first rank in terms of purity and authenticity, with a unique gastronomy and a lifestyle preserved from the modern world. It is also since time immemorial a wine producing region, now grouped under the designation of origin controlled (DOC).
The Douro region is known mainly for its fortified wines called Port wines. Some world-famous sweet wines that are the brand of the charming city of Oporto. However, the denomination of origin also integrates unfortified, red and white wines, called “Douro wines”.
The wealth of the Portuguese grape
In the Douro area, we find a vast variety of grapes, most of them being native or from other parts of Portugal. The truth is that oenology is an even new science in an area where producers did not tend to give much importance to grape varieties. The great modern production started during the seventies, giving rise to the creation of new wines of the highest level. Nowadays most of the Quintas limit the varieties and even bet on the mono-varietal.
Brief history of wine in the Douro Valley
The archaeological remains show the existence of wine activity during the final period of the Roman Empire. In the Middle Ages, three important Cistercian monasteries had a notable influence on wine production in the region. It is in the eighteenth century when for the first time the mention “Port wines” appears and it is in this same century when the large wineries created by English families are born. The production and distribution of these wines develop into one of the main industries in Portugal.
The Port Wine denomination is the oldest wine demarcation in the world.
Oporto’s wineries focused for centuries on the production and distribution of fortified wines. The other wines did have such a big interest for them until a new generation of winemakers revamped the scene following the efforts of Fernando Nicolau de Almeida, just after the Second World War.
With the entry of Portugal into the European Community in 1986, the monopoly of the Port lodges’ was abolished, and the production and distribution of wines by the same producers of the Douro Valley began.
Wine Tourism in the Douro Valley
The Douro Valley is nowadays one of the most distinguished destinations of the European continent in the matter of wine tourism. The beauty of the landscapes, the charming villages with their vineyards lined with impressive terraces, the omnipresence of the river, without talking about fantastic wineries full of charm, all this puts the destination at the same level as the valley of the Rhine or the Regions more Beautiful in Italy.
Terra traditions present several itineraries, the most attractive being perhaps the one that combines the discovery of the Ribera del Duero in Spain and its excellent wines with the unique romanticism of the Portuguese Douro, Iberian Wine Country.
Another top wine experience which is completely focused in Portuguese wine culture, is our most recent luxury tour proposal, Essence of Portugal.