Douro Region in Portugal
Certainly one of the Portugal’s most picturesque wine regions, the Alto Douro is also the oldest demarcated and regulated wine region in the world, dating back to 1756.
Wine and the Douro River are the life blood of this region which, although renowned for port wine, also produces some astonishing and unique table wines, sparkling wines to rival champagne and deliciously fruity and fresh fortified moscatel wine. Visiting a traditional quinta where you can see and smell wine aging in oak barrels and casks is one of the highlights of a visit to the Douro wine region, as is a boat trip on the mighty river.
Wine production in the Douro Valley dates back to Roman times and owes much to the Cistercian monks who revived the practice and cultivated vineyards in the 12th century. Their monasteries still grace the landscapes and provide interest beyond the grape in terms of art, architecture and history.
When the British developed a fondness for the Douro’s full-bodied red wines in the 17th century, the increased demand transformed the landscape of the Douro Valley and surrounding hillsides. Flat land is scarce in this mountainous region so terracing provided a solution for expanding the vineyards and using the slopes and their exposure to the sun to their full advantage.
This dramatically beautiful man-moulded landscape of terraced mountains, as well as the centuries-old wine estates (quintas) and all the elements of local wine production earned the Alto Douro wine region its UNESCO World Heritage status in 2001.
One of the world’s best driving roads winds its way alongside the majestic Douro River surrounded by this unique scenery. Every twist and turn on the mountain roads produces breathtaking views of hillside villages, deep valleys, centuries-old wine estates and patterned slopes. Among the many hilltop viewpoints is Casal de Loivos, which the BBC deemed one of the best views in the world.
Discover the many delights of the Douro Valley yourself, with our help.