The Douro Valley

In order to reach to the Atlantic Ocean, the huge stream dug the deep Douro Valley over hundreds of thousands of years. However, it was human hands that created the terraces on the steep slopes of the valley sides in order to make agriculture possible in the region. Since then, in addition to grain, potatoes, cabbage and fruit, also grapevines found a home in the Douro Valley.

In the Spanish section (Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Toro) of the valley the vines thrive on clay, gravel, sand, gypsum and limestone, while downstream from the Spanish-Potuguese  border the vines root deeply in 250,000 hectares of granite and slate soils.

The region’s most prominent red varietals are Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barocca, Tinta Cão and Sousão, and the most prominent white varietals are Malvasia Fina, Gouveio, Rabigato, Arinto and Viosinho.

Flora

Portugal has over 250 different indigenous grape varieties. Vines have to be marine tough to face the challenges of the Douro Valley: It’s often said that we have 9 months of winter and 3 months of hellishily hot summer in our region. So, the vines must be capable of handling both extremely hot and moderately cold temperatures without the grapes losing acidity during the decisive ripening period. Mixed plantings of a handful or more grape varieties help to maintain balance and freshness in the wines. Moreover, the high altitude of the vineyards (up to 700 meters) helps to preserve the acidity and the stony soils give the wines a pronounced minerality. 

In the demarcated Douro Region, we have 64 authorized red and 46 authorized white varietals (easy to remember!). However, only about a dozen of them are widely planted.

History

People have lived in our valley for at least 25,000 years. We know that because of carvings from this period that were found in the northern Douro Valley. And viticulture has been practiced here for several thousand years. Wine is in our blood, so to speak!

Wine exports also have a long history Portugal having had a long-term trading relationship with England. Several wars between England and France during the 18th century considerably increased the demand for Port wines in Britain.

By expanding the transport routes within the Douro Valley the local winegrowers, who lived at their Quintas (as the wineries are called) surrounded by the terraced vineyards, were able to deliver the young Port wines via the Douro river to Oporto on the Atlantic coast, from where they could be shipped across the ocean.

In 1756 Portugal’s Prime Minister Marques de Pombal drew the borders of the Douro Valley, making it the oldest, demarcated wine region in the world. That led to wine became the region’s main crop, and grapes almost the sole source of income for the valley’s inhabitants. They delivered their wines to the traders in Oporto who undertook the export sales and marketing for the region. Only after Portugal joined the European Union in 1986 was the export monopoly of the large Port houses abolished and the individual Quintas were granted the right to sell directly on the world market.

On December 14, 2001, a large part of the Alto Douro wine region was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site; another decisive step for the region’s international renown.

With the Douro Boys, a group of like-minded winemakers was formed. We made the quality and importance of Portuguese red and white table wines known around the world. Because of our promotion the valley is now considered an insider tip by travellers all over the world.

Are you looking for an enlightening wine-discussion paired with a stay in one of the best and most architecturally pleasing hotels in the whole Douro? Then you have to visit the Ferreiras! Their passion for the region is contagious and you will not leave the valley without being impressed by the local cuisine with fruit and vegetables from their own garden.

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Vilarinho dos Freires
5050 - 364 Peso da Régua Portugal

Tel: +351 254 323147
Email: geral@quintadovallado.com
Web: www.quintadovallado.com

Some experts call Niepoort is the initiator of the modern Douro. Consequently, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to try his wines in their home. Although the gape elixir is always on their creative minds, you might catch one of the Niepoorts for an inspiring chat about their globally acclaimed wines.

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Quinta de Nápoles
5510-543
Portugal

Tel: +351 223 777 770
Email: info@niepoort.pt
Web: www.niepoort-vinhos.com

In addition to the impressive quality of the wines, you won’t forget a meeting with the Roquettes: Their hospitality and joie de vivre, combined with the mystical location of the winery are an experience not to be missed!

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Gouvinhas
5060-063 Sabrosa
Portugal

Tel: +351 254 920 020
Email : crasto@quintadocrasto.pt
Web: www.quintadocrasto.pt

Cristiano van Zeller is one of the Douro Valley’s most important ambassadors. With great passion and convincing authority, he spins tales like no other. Cristiano is the communicator par excellence and leaves and indelible image of the Douro and its wines all over the world.

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EM502,
Portugal

Email: cristianovanzeller@vanzellersandco.com

You want to drink the same wine as the royalty of China? Then come and visit the Olazábals. Not only do they produce amazing and highly-rated wines, but you have to experience this diamond of a spot!

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Vila Nova de Foz Côa
5150-501 Vila Nova de Foz Côa
Portugal

Tel: +351 279 762 156
Email: geral@quintadovalemeao.pt
Web: www.quintadovalemeao.pt