The Douro Valley

With a length of 897km the Douro River is considered to be the longest river of the Iberian peninsula, originating at the Spanish province of Soria and flowing all the way into the Atlantic ocean. It is along this river that was dug up thousands of years ago in Portugal that you will find the wineries behind the Douro Boys.

In order to make agriculture possible in the region, human hands built the now famous terraces on the steep slopes of the valley sides. Since then, in addition to grain, potatoes, cabbage and fruit, also grapevines found a home and truly flourished 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 tough to face the climatic challenges of the Douro ValleyIt’s often said that we have 9 months of winter and 3 months of hellishily hot summer in our region. The vines must be capable of handling both, the extremely hot and moderately cold temperatures of the Douro 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 along the Douro river for at least 25,000 years. We know that because of prehistoric carvings that were found in the northern Douro Valley. Our region’s history of viticulture has been a longstanding tradition, going back thousands of years. One could say that making wine is in our blood.

Wines that went across borders for quite a while: Wine exports 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, the group of like-minded vintners of Quinta do Crasto, Quinta do Vallado, Quinta Vale Meão, Niepoort & Van Zellers & Co. 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.

(Eager to discover this insider tip that is the Douro? Head on over to the Quintas to make a booking and don’t forget to check out our advice for your trip!)

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 
Niepoort Winery 
5110-543 Santo Adrião - Douro
 (GPS: 41°14’87.85”N / 7°64’30.94”W)

Tel. +351 223 777 770

Email: napoles@niepoort.pt
Web: www.niepoort.pt

Niepoort Wine Cellar 
Rua de Serpa Pinto, 278 4400-307
Vila Nova de Gaia - Porto
Tel: +351 223 777 770
Email: serpa.pinto@niepoort.pt

All Year: Prior reservation required 

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