Famous as the home of Port, the Douro valley also boasts delicious fresh whites and deliciously dry red wines. And it’s a far-cry from the Matteus Rose you might remember from the 1970s.
The Douro valley is divided into three main regions, the Baizo Corgo, Cima Corgo and Douro Corgo, which collectively produce over 100 varieties of grapes. And while Portugal hasn’t always occupied a front-running position on the international wine scene, the Douro Valley has everything you need for a grape-growing paradise: an elegantly flowing river, rugged winding roads, hazy sunshine, and of course, excellent wines. Whether you favor the deep aromatic flavors of port or you want to explore the newer, emerging varieties, here are are three wineries worth exploring this summer. Let’s get tasting!
Sandeman’s at Quinta do Seixo
Sandeman’s is one of the most popular port producers in the country. It also boasts some of the most picture-perfect views in all of the Douro Valley—imagine steep hillsides lined with neatly spaced vines overlooking a majestic lake. Sandeman’s at Quinta do Seixo takes advantage of its natural beauty with an expansive outdoor space complete with a rustic stone terrace and inviting lounge chairs. They offer thorough tastings, guided tours of the facilities and will even give you a crash course in the production process of classic port and its evolution. You’ll taste ports across the decades, including their White Port, Founder’s Reserve Port and 20 Year Old Tawny Port. If you’re looking for a taste of Portuguese tradition in beautiful surroundings, a trip up the steep hills to Quinta do Seixo is worth your time.
Quinta do Crasto
With over 70 acres of grade-A vineyards, you’re bound to find a wine to satisfy your palate at Quinta do Crasto. Sequestered on the right bank of the Douro river, the hilly vineyards have been growing top-tier grapes since 1761. Quinto do Crasto produces all the classics of Portuguese winemaking: from Douro Valley whites and reds to perfectly aged Port, and they even produce their own extra virgin olive oil. For the environmentally conscious consumer, Quinta do Crasto is proudly eco-friendly too, holding a strong commitment to preserving their 100-year-old vines by promoting eco-diversity in the area (read: no unidentifiable pesticides!). You can taste their raved-about 2011 Vinha Maria Teresa – considered one of the best wines ever made in Portugal, then take a tour of the impeccable grounds before finishing your day off with a glass of crisp, refreshing white on their storybook tree-covered terrace.
Fonseca Porto at Quinta do Panascal
A trip to Quinta do Panascal’s is a trip to the rugged, southern European countryside of your imagination. Housed in a charming mansion, it offers self-guided audio tours in several languages so you can meander at your own pace. At the visitors center, you can expect the tasting table to be dominated by Ports of all ages, and if you pass through the winery during the fall harvest, you’ll be invited to watch the traditional practice of crushing the grapes by foot. To make a full day out of your visit to Quinta do Panascal, take a break from tasting and enjoy some of the many other activities on offer: how about a guided boat tour down the Douro river, followed by an educational Port wine workshop, and a candlelit dinner on the terrace. Cheers!