We push our way up the switchbacks and drag the car dangerously close to the edge of the narrow road closer to the river as an SUV returning from the mountain rushes downhill.
Below us is a latticework of grapevines that grow in slate rock terraces, arranged in pleasant nooks and crannies.
As if the mountain interface was shared the mighty Douro river makes its way and flows between Portugal and Spain.
The river has witnessed human and wine endeavors for more than 2000 years; In 1991 the Alto Douro became the UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the long tradition of port production and the resulting infrastructure development in the region.
Related read: A Guide to Porto Street Art
A visit to the Douro wine valley
That The Douro Wine Valley is as spectacular as they say, but even in the summer heat there are very few tourists. Across the river there are a number of rural houses, some with a noble edge, and they cast ethereal shadows in the shallow green water. The terrain is unique and I sense a growing curiosity about the history and the people who live and work here.
While the grapes for some incredibly good table wines are grown here in the Douro, which we had the pleasure of tasting for over three months in Portugal, the region is best known for excellent ports or fortified wines.
In picturesque Porto, which lies on the Douro Basin, you will see prominent signs with the names of Port wine cellar. Port wine is stored in these cool cellars, but trucks have to make the precarious way down to get there. We are told that during the harvest season it is not uncommon for there to be more than one collision or for a truck to tragically fall over the side.
In the past, barrels were made of pressed grapes rabelo along the unpredictable Douro.
The Douro wineries
On different goods or Quintas, you may still find rudimentary old-style chapels – these were houses of worship where the stewards of these small vessels came to pray for safe passage.
at Quinta do Crasto, we are taken to admire the view of the valley from the pool area before our tasting begins and the eye believes that the pool empties into the Douro River.
Here we are reminded of what we were told before, that ports are so popular that the Portuguese are not. Rather, it is an English custom that seems to live on; of course, a large part of the port produced is intended for export. The Douro developed the first appellation system, a wine classification to distinguish the three regions in which the grapes are grown. This was developed 200 years before the French system!
Later at Quinta do Nova, we both agree on that This could be the right place for a vow renewalexcept we both know we have a family that wouldn’t commit to climbing the hills to get here. Lunch is an elaborate affair paired with the estate’s wines under the shaded pergola.
After a day of exploration, a Douro wine tasting (the driver has to choose sensitivity, the roads are not worth the risk) and enjoying the view, we return to the beautiful CS Vintage House Hotel for a nap and a shower before dinner Rui Paulas DOC, an elegant and modern restaurant with an excellent reputation right on the water.
And tomorrow? We will make it all happy again!
Types of ports in Douro
By and large, port can be divided into two types, wood and aged in bottles. Wood-aged ports include Ruby, Tawny and White. The glass-aged port wines include vintage and crusted ports.
Port wine can also be paired with cheese, chocolate and cake.