Port Wine & Douro
Here’s the great thing about river cruising on the Douro in Portugal (well, if we’re being honest, just one of the many great things). Even if you’re not a wine connoisseur, you can still enjoy sailing through one of the world’s oldest wine regions. The same terraced landscape that gives way to such productive vineyards, distinctive port wines, and effervescent vinho verdes is a beautiful sight to behold any way you slice it.
However, if you are an oenophile, you’ve definitely chosen the right river to experience. Wine-centric Douro River itineraries take their theme to heart, bringing you face-to-face with the vintners who have long made their livelihood among the grapes. In fact, the region has been producing wine, including its world-famous Port, for more than 2,000 years and was demarcated in 1756.
Immersive Wine Experiences on the Douro
It’s one thing to sail past the sun-baked, vine-covered banks of the Douro; it’s another to step off the boat to meet the winemakers, get to know their ancient traditions, and learn how they produce their renowned vintages, perhaps even grafting vines or harvesting grapes yourself. Your reward? A long-awaited glass of Port, vinho verde, or even local Tempranillo.
An in-depth city tour of charming Porto, is a must, both for being the namesake and birthplace of Port wine, and for its winding streets and storied history. Take a tour and learn how “liquid gold” (Port wine) has long been the hallmark of the city, and how Porto morphed from a humble Roman settlement to the heart of the Age of Discoveries.
In Pinhão, you can overnight and visit a local Quinta (vineyard), where - of course - you’ll partake in local cuisine and paired wines from the region. Take time to explore, imagining, if you will, what it might be like to live here and tend to the vineyard yourself.
In Barca d’Alva, visit the small fortified village of Castelo Rodrigo, where you can taste local produce and be treated to an exclusive dinner at a traditional Quinta, while also exploring a museum dedicated to the history and culture of wine in the Alto Douro region. Don’t worry - there will be plenty of time for tasting!
Learn about northern Portugal’s other favorite wine, vinho verde (pronounced Veeng-yo Vaird), which translates to “young wine.” The effervescent white wine is to be enjoyed within one year of bottling and is especially popular this time of year as we sit out in the garden savoring a glass of something aromatic and crisp. The vinho verde wine-growing region is the largest in the country, with 19,000 grape growers farming an area of more than 51,000 acres.
Thirsting for a Douro River cruise, brimming with history, culture, cuisine, and generous pours of wine? Let’s chat.