One of the days we spent in Porto was spent entirely in the Douro Valley. We booked a private tour for the day, and I am glad we did. The tour guide was super friendly and knowledgable about the area. At the beginning of the ride and when we booked the tour, we were told we would be going to one small batch winery, one medium, and one large more corporate winery. It took over an hour out of Porto to get to what was considered “wine country”, but this guy lost no time educating us about the varietals in Portugal and the differences between different ports as well. Vintage, Ruby, Tawny, and White were the main types of port that he went over and Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francessa, and Tinta Roriz were a few of the varietals of wine grape he specifically talked about. After a good wine lesson in the car, we arrived at the first place.
The first place was the medium sized place, it was still family run, but large enough that you could see their production was large enough to buy a good amount. We were the first ones to arrive and apparently we were waiting on another tour bus group to join us. We were able to walk around on the property close to the vines, and we saw most of the grapes had already been harvested, and that there were just a few stragglers on the vines. There were also a vast number of olive trees on the property that our guide explained were used to make olive oil as well.
Puppies! (check out that hair though 😉 )
As we continued to walk around the property, we came upon a couple of guys who were stomping grapes. They were very friendly and talked to us for some time to explain their process and answer all of the questions Ethan had. They offered to have us jump in and squish the grapes with them, but just then the tour bus arrived so we didn’t get our stinky feet in with the grapes.
They took us into their storerooms and talked about the process of making their port. Then we went into their tasting room and had a tasting set up to give us a little taste of a few of their different styles. A couple bottles later, we were off to the next one.
This next one was a VERY small production facility, where they specialized in whites, but also in blends that were as much as 100 years old. These were definitely the most unique and we did a tasting with the owner pouring and walking us through all of the ports. As we came right at harvest season, we had to wait a little bit for him to be available, but if I had to pick one this would be my favorite. It was small and intimate, and you could feel the love that went into the entire process. Unfortunately I was so engrossed by the whole process of this one I ended up with no pictures other than a price list. Insert eye roll here.
About this time, it was time for a lunch pit stop. We went to a local place that our tour guide recommended and had some really tasty regional food. Although Portugal is a costal country, they cook a lot with beef. So for lunch we opted to try a little of both. DELICIOUS! I wish I had remembered the name of the restaurant because the people were so friendly and the food was amazing. A couple of solid plates and a little bit of wine with lunch (hey we’re on vacation might as well!) we were ready to hit our final location for the day.
This location was definitely more corporate, as they had more of an estate. There was also a tasting room and someone to run the show. It was much more organized and the group was much larger probably like 30-40 people, so the whole feel was very different. We decided only to buy one bottle here, and we decided to invest in a newer bottle that would age in the bottle that we would open the day one of our kids graduates high school… or college…or we turn 80…or whatever way in the future. With that we were back to Porto (or more correctly if you read my previous post Vila Nova de Gaia), where our tour guide dropped us off at the apartment and we said our goodbyes.
Of all the things we paid money to do, this was well worth the expense. The whole tour, everyone was friendly and our guide was knowledgeable. I still can’t believe as we were driving through the entire Douro Valley that everything looked so beautifully green and lush.
We spent a good deal of time wandering around this beautiful part of the country, but all good things must come to an end…Next stop Lisbon!
Until next time