Douro Valley, birthplace of Port, is one of the oldest and most beautiful historic world wine regions. Wine has been made here for 2000 years!
The Duoro wine region is located in the North-East of Portugal, between Barqueiros and Mazouco, on the Spanish border. The upper Douro Valley lies about 100 kilometers inland from the coast and is protected from the harsh Atlantic winds by the Marão and Montemuro mountains.
The region is mountainous and the majority of vineyards are planted on terraces, many supported by ancient dry stone walls, creating striking landscapes. The soil of the Douro Valley is very stony and is made up of a flaky ochre-colored rock called schist. This soil is rich in nutrients but is free draining, obliging the vine to push its roots deep into the soil and down through cracks in the bedrock in search of water. The hot dry climate and the rocky soil mean that yields are very low and the grape juice extremely rich and concentrated.
The Douro Valley is a Unesco World Heritage site since 2001, protecting its long tradition of viticulture and cultural landscape of outstanding beauty.
WHEN TO GO AND FOR HOW LONG?
May or June is the perfect time for good weather and beautiful landscape colours. September and October is harvest and is also a good time for a wine trip.
2-3 days are just enough to get a flavour of the region, but to explore it more in depth a week tour is the best if combined with the historic cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia and some visits and tastes of Vinho Verde (between Douro Valley and Porto city).
WHERE TO GO?
In the Douro region, you can live unforgettable experiences from observing of the unique natural landscape, to wine production, to the local cuisine and water sports. Key highlights of the Duoro region are:
- Régua and the Douro Museum - this is the 'capital' of Douro Valley, a small city that grew up because of the development of port industry being a collecting point for the wines before being transported down river to Vila Nova de Gaia cellars.
- Foz Côa - the Park of Coa is a unique place in the world displaying in open air the prehistoric rock art of Coa River Valley, which has been recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage.
- Pinhão - the small town of Pinhao really marks the start of Port production. Delightfully located on the North bank of the River Douro.
- Lamego - an attractive town with a cathedral, castle and the most striking cultural monument, the church and shrine of Nossa Senhora dos Remédios which sits high up on the hillside above the wide central avenue in the town and approached via 700 or so steps zigzagging up the hill.
- Vila Real - nearby this town you can visit the baroque Mateus Palace with its romantic gardens.
- Amarante - a town famous for its naughty shaped sweet pastries.
- The Favaios wine - a liqueur/fortified wine made from the Moscatel grape.
- Cruise on the river Duoro and Porto city - one of the oldest European cities, now a UNESCO World Heritage.
- The Vinho Verde wine region, with the traditional Vinho Verde vineyards where you can taste the fresh and aromatic white wines, also less alcoholic.
- Quintas visit - as elsewhere in Portugal, a vineyard estate is known as a ‘Quinta’. Visit an opening ceremonial of a Vintage Port wine with fire-heated pincers.
- A wine walking tour with explanation to the terraces of vines falling steeply down to the river banks.
- Harvest and Douro Film Harvest Festival in September/October.
- Trip between the cities of Régua and Pinhão, by train, car or/and boat for striking vineyard scenery.
Quinta de Guimarães
Winery in Douro Valley
Quinta de Guimarães is a private manor house situated on the right side of the Douro river, at the border of Oporto wine region with Vinho Verde. The main building was built in the 1720s and displays the characteristics of Portuguese baroque style. The Quinta is...
- Family winery
- Rustic accommodation on site
- Wine tastings
- Spectacular views of the Douro river
Lugar de Miguas, 4640-467 Santa Marinha do Zêzere
Our choice of restaurants
CS Vintage House Restaurant - Pinhão $$
Lugar da Ponte, 5085-034, Pinhão
+351 254 730 230
Pacheca Wine House Restaurant - Lamego $$
Quinta Da Pacheca, Cambres, 5100-424, Lamego
+351 254 331 229
Castas e Pratos - Peso da Régua $
Rua José Vasques Osório 5050-280, Peso da Régua
+351 254 323 290
LBV House Hotel Restaurant - Pinhão $$
Rua da Galeira 5085-060, Pinhão
+351 254 738 320
DOC - Degustar, Ousar, Comunicar - Armamar $$$
Creative Portuguese. It won the prize "Best of Wine Tourism" in the wine restaurant category, awarded by the Great Wine...
Estrada Nacional 222 Folgosa 5110-204, Armamar
+351 254 858 123
Quinta da Romaneira Restaurant - Costas $$$
A mixture of modern and traditional Portuguese cuisine.
Quinta dos Sonhos, 5070 Costas
+351 254 732 432
Port and DOC Douro wines are made only with native grape varieties. One of the Douro Valley’s attributes is its wealth of different traditional grape varieties. Although around thirty grape varieties can be used to make Port, most modern vineyards are made up of a selection of five top red grape types now generally considered to produce the finest wines.
Red - Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca, Tinto Cão, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca.
White - Malvasia, Rabigato, Viosinho.
The upper Douro Valley lies about 100 kilometers inland from the coast and is protected from the harsh Atlantic winds by the Marão and Montemuro mountains. Consequently it is cold in winter and very hot and dry in summer.
The soil in which Douro Valley vines are planted is made up of schist, a slate-like metamorphic rock. Rich in nutrients, it has also has useful water retention properties. The interstices of the many large pieces of foliated schistose rock which make up a large proportion of the soil, retain a certain amount of humidity, sometimes just enough to allow the vine to thrive in the arid conditions which prevail for most of the summer.
How to get there
The closest airport to the Douro region is Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport, which is about 15 km from the centre of Porto. Arriving at the airport in Porto, you will be able to rent a car. You should then get on the A4 motorway and follow the directions to Amarante or Vila Real (+/- 95 km).
You can also travel by train. At the airport there is a Metro station (tube station), line E, which will take you to the Campanhã train station in about thirty minutes. There you can take the train to Régua (Douro Valley centre).
There is also an airfield in Vila Real where you can take a flight to the Lisbon airport or to Bragança airfield. Trips are regular but not necessarily frequent.