A wine that borns in the undulating vineyards of the Douro Valley makes Portugal be the talk of the town. More than a delightful taste, Port wine has a story to tell that includes best-kept secrets!
Now that you know why the Port wine cellars are located in Gaia, it's time to find out more about what makes this wine so famous. No doubt their exquisite taste is at the top of the reasons, however, there is so much more to discover that have not been told yet!
The accidental discovery
Although there are many theories about the emerge of Port wine, it is believed that the discovery of this exquisite drink was accidental. In the middle of the seventeenth century, England chose Portugal to be its main supplier of wines. In order to preserve the drink of the hot weather during the long voyage, English merchants add aguardente (a type of brandy) to prevent its deterioration. This addition of alcohol not only preserved the drink but also enhanced its flavor. It was through this formula that the idea arose to add aguardente during the fermentation process to sweeten the wine and to increase its alcohol content.
The wine transported by Rabelo boats
Before the roads and the railways, the Douro Wine Estates were only accessible by river. If the Douro is the center of wine production and Porto, the starting point for its commercialization, the transport of barrels was an essential part to make this drink world-famous. It was then that the Rabelo boats were created, boats designed to survive the strong currents of the Douro river to finally arrived in Vila Nova de Gaia. Therefore, every time you get on board in a Rabelo boat, remember that these boats are proof of the history of Port wine.
The first demarcated wine region in the world
The Douro is the oldest wine region in the world! Created in 1756 by Marques de Pombal, an important Portuguese politician, and diplomat, it is the result of centuries of work. The Demarcated region of the Alto Douro is also considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since its landscape remains naturally slender.
The importance of the sale (stone) for production
The soil of the vines is composed by shale, a predominant stone in the region that has a volcanic origin. It is during the hottest months of the year that shale stores heat, and at the end of the day, when the weather gets colder, that the stone distributes heat through the soil. The same happens with rain, the shale stores the water, and there is no need for a watering system in the vineyard. It allows vines to develop while moderating their access to water and consequently their yields.
The legendary D. Antónia Ferreirinha
Perhaps we can consider D. Antonia as the maternal figure of the Douro. One of the most striking characters in the history of Port wine production. A determined woman who built an empire around her vineyards and who cared about her workers, even funding the education of their children. Kindly know as "Ferreirinha", she became famous for its dedication to the cultivation of Port wine and the innovations introduced by her in the vineyards of this region. You can find its figure and name in several Douro wines that, in a certain way, immortalize this woman so cherished by the people.
Harvest in Douro Valley
The grapes are harvested manually and this has nothing to do with the modernization of the methods used. Even the most modern wineries do not exclude the people in the harvest period and for the grape-stomping process. Therefore, in this wine region, everything is done by traditional means! Do you want to join us in the Douro harvest season?
Traces of Paleolithic Art
In the middle of the Douro valley, you will find cave figures that represent the first manifestations of communication by the human being. You can find this gallery in the Archaeological Park of Vila Nova de Foz Côa, which is the largest outdoor Paleolithic rock art complex in the world.
Are you curious to discover this region and to taste its delicious Port wine? Book here your Porto wine tour!