Looking for a wine holiday with a difference ? Ever wanted to see for yourself how the wines that you love are made ? A lot of the wineries or quintas in Portugal understand this and are keen to share their passion for wine with wine enthusiasts.
Take a flight to Porto, have a look around that wonderful city and then travel north up to Minho, a land of misty granite ridges and deep valleys down to the Atlantic. Sample refreshing spritzy vinho verdes with flavours of citrus, apple and peach. Stay at Quinta da Portela, an impressive manor house on the Caminho de Santiago in the Lima Valley and let your host Han Geelen guide you through the local wines over a lovely dinner sourced from local produce. (Hangeelen@msn.com).
Then head down to the Douro valley, the world’s oldest demarcated wine region with its steeply terraced slopes hewn from schist. Here you can sample the wonderful ruby, tawny and vintage ports as well as table wines with luscious blackberry fruit, violet, cocoa and tobacco flavours. Stay at Quinta Santa Eufemia near Regua where Alzira and her brother Bernardo can show you around their amazing adega with 10, 20, 30 and even 40 year old ports in oak barrels, some of which are truly enormous ! Visitors during the grape harvest can join in the foot treading in the stone tanks or lagares to the sound of accordion music. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Alzira with one of her port barrels
Further up the Douro Mafalda Almeida of Miles Away project specialises in arranging bespoke tours of the Douro Superior, home of some of the original Douro pioneers. Mafalda can arrange visits to Quinta Noval with its iconic whitewashed terraces and delicious velvety ports or Vesuvio, an imposing quinta with an impressive wine cellar and one-time home of the famous Dona Antonia Ferreira who tamed great tracts of the Upper Douro in the 18 century (see cover photo).
Also Quinta do Bom Retiro , a tranquil retreat for the Ramos Pinto family and Ervamoira at the furthest extremity of the Douro. This vast wine estate in the remote Douro Superior has incredible historical artefacts dating back to Roman and even Palaeolithic times. Round off this perfect road trip at Monte de Xisto you can enjoy a night under canvas in the Hemingway-style ‘fly camp’ with spectacular views of the river below and an open air candle lit dinner of local cuisine and wines from the exclusive wine estates in the area.
Just a selection of the fabulous wine travel options – what are you waiting for !!
Fly camp at Monte de Xisto
Douro photos courtesy of Joao Romba and Ana de Lima