Wine Tourism in Douro
The valley of the river Douro in Portugal, like in Spain, is a perfect place for vine cultivation, so that is why it has been used for wine production for centuries by diverse civilizations that populated the ancient province of Lusitania.
The Douro area
It is necessary to differentiate between the Douro valley and the area that produces Port wine, so, while the first is broader and refers virtually to the entire Portuguese river course, the second is smaller and only refers to the middle course of the Douro river where a specific type of wine is produced.
This is the area that goes between the border of Spain and approximately the village of Tua. Around 10% of total production is achieved here, and in 2001 it was declared a World Heritage Site. This area is characterized by the dry and warm climate
This is the intermediate area of the Portuguese Douro, between the localities of Tua and Argamar, and its main characteristic is that it is famous for the production of Port wine.
This is the closest area to the mouth of the Douro river, and that explains the mild temperatures and most abundant precipitations; traditionally it was considered “the poor sister” of the wine region of Douro, since its wines were known for being of less quality than the wines produced in the other two sub-regions. However, recently the rise in wine tourism in the Douro has brought an increase in the quality of the wines produced.
Wines and grapes in the Douro
When approaching the wines of the Douro, it is necessary to emphasize that the naming of these wines may mislead the wine tourist who is familiarized with Spanish wines.
So, the word “reserva” in Portugal means that the wine has half a grade more alcohol than the minimum required, and does not have anything to do with aging, while the term “garrafeira” wine is used to designate the neighboring country´s high quality wines.
As far as the types of grapes that are used, the majority of wines produced in this region use a mixture of different grapes.
Among the grapes for red wines, the varieties that stand out are the Bastardo, Mourisco Tinto, Tinta Amarela, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cao, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Francesa and Touriga Nacional and the varieties Donzelinho Branco, Gouveio, Malvasia Fina, Rabigato and Viosinho are used for white wines. The diverse proportions of the different varieties of grapes determine the different qualities and personalities of each wine of the Douro region.
In recent years the possibilities for wine tourism activities in the Alto Douro, and also in the other two sub-regions, have been increasing exponentially at such a rate that a complete catalog has been put together to satisfy the demands of the wine tourist.
Hence many wine cellars, called “Quintas” in Portugal, have adapted to offer the visitors the most complete wine experience, from explanations on the wine production process in the region to the opportunity to stay overnight in the winery and the availability of a wide range of activities from wine tastings to bike riding in the vineyards.
Furthermore, the Douro river offers the possibility to participate in water activities such as cruises, canoeing and visits related to nature, the flora and fauna of the region.
We look forward to planning for you a trip full of contrasts and history in Portugal!