Porto, Cima-Corga, Pinhao, Quinta
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
The magnificence of the Douro River is shown as opulent vines flourish on steep river terraces, and cellars whisper of ancient legends. Sail the river, escape to the villages, and explore the inimitable range of wines on tutored Masterclasses. Enjoy several days of port in Porto, and then several more with the luscious red blends found deep in the valley, all of it accompanied by Portugal’s finest food. So relax and indulge your palate, for this is the oldest demarcated wine region of them all.
Porto – Relaxing on the River
Land in Porto and you will be transferred to a five-star hotel perched above the river. Your accommodations command a glorious view over the valley, and of the historic center of Porto. Your room opens onto this view, as does the swimming pool and roof terrace, so it is peaceful up here, the river working its magical serenity. But you are also still very close to everything, as it’s only a little over five minutes to the heart of World Heritage Porto, and your private chauffeur provides you transport. Take some time to relax and admire the curves of both city and river, and adjust to the rhythm of a wine vacation after your day spent traveling.
Begin with your first steps in the old city as steps descend steeply to the waterfront, leading you past azulejo tiled facades. Church towers ascend above townhouses that slope steeply towards the river. There will be an air of indulgence, an air of a city that takes things slowly, and you cannot travel fast here. There are no roads by the river, as in the tightly-packed urban core, there is only cobbles, cafes, wine bars, and the sultry scent of the not-too-distant Atlantic. This evening, you will have reservations at DOP Restaurant. Set inside the 14th-century Palace of the Arts, the contemporary restaurant is the work of Michelin-starred Rui Paula. You will go on a premium tasting journey through classic Portuguese flavors, each dish paired with a fine Douro wine.
Porto – The Legend of Port Wine
Port cellars used to be found in Porto, but there was no space and the city introduced a port cellar tax. So, the cellars moved across the river to what was then a different city, Vila Nova de Gaia. Now they stand in photogenic harmony, great warehouses aging world-famous port wines. Today you will explore the legend of this wine and its production as a cellar-master takes you on a private tour of Real Companhia Velha. Musty smells are found beneath the ground, along with barrels and vats that seem to be lost in time. Wine has been aging in these for ten, twenty, even forty years, and you can taste the difference, especially when the flavors are enhanced as each port is served with a matured cheese.
Real Companhia Velha provides an understanding of the process, so after lunch, Graham’s Port Lodge will give you an appreciation for the grapes. This is still a working cellar and you can hear the soft tapping of a cooper’s hammer as the barrels are being constructed, alongside the footsteps of workers transferring grapes and wines between vats. Port is made from six grapes, and you can taste the subtleties in flavors as you go through different ports to see how the flavors change based on the percentages that go into each vintage. There will be some free time to relax along the river, perhaps to even take a little cruise on the water with a bottle of 30 years old Tawny. Spend your evening at Decastro Gaia Restaurant, starting with a sunset cocktail with fabulous views across Porto and the setting sun. The gastronomy here is innovative and diverse, testing the palate with contemporary Portuguese flavors and wines.
Porto – Exploring the Heart of Porto and Vintage Port Masterclass
Discover Porto today, your private guide narrating the history behind its beautiful architecture. Marvel at the azulejo at Sao Bento, 20,000 painted tiles creating a mosaic of baffling detail. Inhale the wooden smells of Lello Bookstore, and then have lunch with afternoon tea in Majestic Cafe, the grand dame of old-world Portuguese cafes. Explore the legend of Porto Cathedral and then descend through the centuries, the cramped central streets leading from Gothic to baroque without ever giving up their love for azulejo tiles. You will soon find yourself down by the water, walking past the wine bars to a private boat that takes you to Taylor’s, the most illustrious of all the world’s port cellars.
After touring the cellars you will embark on a connoisseur’s tasting experience, a vintage masterclass that takes you back through the last century. Taste some of the most revered port wines, learn why certain years are inscribed in legend, and understand more of the nuance that goes into every port wine. If the weather is good, you might do this tasting out on the same boat used to bring grapes back from the Douro Valley. Pedro Lemos Restaurant is your evening destination, and a rustic dining room stands high above the river. Michelin-starred Pedro Lemos is the proprietor and like the port tasting, the menu is for culinary connoisseurs.
Douro Valley – Cruising the Douro Valley With Tasting On Board
The Douro River has always been the artery for life in northern Portugal. For centuries, they have carried grapes down from the vineyards by boat. You will travel in one of these traditional boats, using a sail and a motor to travel inwards from where the River Douro meets the Atlantic Ocean. Sail beneath the bridges and soon the valley narrows, escarpments grow steeper and terraced vineyards begin to appear. The challenge of cultivation is obvious, and you can see the painstaking work required to create a space where the grapes could be planted. Machinery cannot access these slopes, as it is far too steep and tight, so they continue to make wine the old-fashioned way and the best way.
It will be a leisurely half-day cruise out towards Pinhao, a historical village at the heart of the Douro Valley and its wine production. Taste wines onboard, both single cultivars and red blends that introduce you to local flavors. Your accommodation is at a vintage hotel on the edge of Pinhao and you will be just steps from the village, which is a wonderful place to be after day-tripping tourists have left around 4 pm. From your private terrace, you can gaze out onto the river and the vines, and dinner will be at a small winery where there is nothing but the odd passing train to break the tranquility.
Douro Valley – Douro Cellars and Boutique Wineries
Now delve into the red wine and into the blend of grapes that make the Douro Valley so revered. This is the world’s oldest demarcated wine region, a World Heritage Site where production is small yet the quality is always high. Schist and granite terroir is unforgiving and highly acidic, demanding incredible attention to detail and the harsh ground was cracked and crushed by hand to accommodate vines. In order to take hold, the vines must send their roots some 20 meters beneath the ground. What they are able to soak up only adds to the complexity of their flavors. Grapes thrive on stress, so while the conditions are harsh, the results are remarkable.
Winemaking is hard here and that is something you will soon discover when touring Quinta do Seixo. Walk through the steep shale terraces, the Douro running blue below. Discuss production with a winemaker and taste his wines in the recently renovated cellar. After lunch, you can visit a much smaller farm, a boutique winery that is rarely heard of outside Portugal, yet the family of Mansilha Branco has been making wine here since 1477. You can tour all of their wines, from the DOC Douro through port and then muscat. Tonight’s dinner is very special with a mix of local wines and local Douro gastronomy at Quinta do Portal.
Douro Valley – Pairing Douro Wines With Food and More
Back in 1756, the Douro Valley established itself as a demarcated wine region, creating specific quality standards that assured the reputation of the wine that was produced. Contrary to most beliefs, this was the world’s first DOC region, and many French and Spanish regions were quick to copy the concept. Just as they were always obsessed with wine here, they have always had a similar passion for local organic food. Your dinner will be prepared before your eyes as the chef hosts a unique table experience, cooking while talking about where and why different products are being used. This is perhaps the finest gastronomic experience in the whole of Portugal, and of course, the food is paired with wine.
The morning is at your leisure and there are more wineries this afternoon. Your guide can tailor the program to your tastes and energy levels. Quinta da Pacheca is a must, the first of all the Douro vineyards to bottle wine under a brand, as before 1738, they were simply Douro wines. There are others, and over your time spent here, you will get a strong appreciation for the three sub-regions. Cima Corgo produces the most famous wines, Douro Superior is new-world, low on production but making huge impressions in international circles.
Porto – Cooking Demonstration, More Vineyards and Back to Porto
Today you will sail back to Porto, but begin first a traditional cuisine workshop. Part demonstration and part getting your hands dirty, you will take a culinary journey through the products and recipes that best go hand in hand with Douro wines. Of course, you will get to taste it all, along with a lavish lunch while overlooking the river before the wind ruffles the sails and you can plot your course downriver to Porto. Stop at a vineyard on the route, the grand reserve red and white wines tasted with your feet between the vines. Then roll into Porto for a relaxed final evening for time to reflect on what you have tasted, with azulejo tiles providing a backdrop to a dinner in the old world.
Porto – Departure
Today is at your leisure before your private airport transfer. Throughout your tour, your guide will have assisted in shipping wine back to your home, so there is no need for a heavy suitcase of clinking bottles.
- Relax amid the World Heritage vineyards of the Douro Valley with several nights at a five-star property hidden from the world
- Delve into the secrets of port by tasting with cellar-masters in Porto’s most illustrious wine houses
- Spend a day sailing down the Douro River
- Explore the finest Douro Valley wines, including family-run vineyards that have been producing since the 18th century
- Go on a vintage port masterclass in one of the world’s most celebrated wine venues.
- Indulge on the food, with handpicked restaurant recommendations for every evening
- Discover the heart of old Porto and the cute villages of the Douro Valley
- Sample many different vintages as you enjoy private tasting sessions at the finest Douro Valley farms
This handcrafted wine tour provides an in-depth exploration of Porto and the Douro Valley. Spread across a full week, you will have time to deeply engage and appreciate why these wine regions are so special. The great Douro River is the centerpiece of this handcrafted Portuguese wine tour, the meandering work of nature that ties together experiences in Porto and remotest Douro Valley. Your tour is handcrafted with a complete range of gastronomic experiences, this also being one of Europe’s great culinary regions, along with various tutored experiences with the people who are shaping port and Douro wines.
Vineyards rise sharply from the Douro River, the terraced slopes too steep for machinery. Vines have their roots some 20 meters beneath the mountain contours, in an acidic terroir of harsh schist and granite. Growing grapes is difficult here, which is why the wines of the Douro are both revered and revolutionary. The region has been producing for over 2,000 years, and UNESCO credits the Douro as the world’s oldest demarcated wine region. In all those centuries the process has not changed, because the land is too harsh for anything but an entirely manual production of wine.
Viticulture revolution comes from the river, and it is found in port, the fortified wine that has been made in Porto since the early 17thcentury. It is also found in the rich, red blends made in three specific Douro Valley regions, the grapes being Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz (known as Tempranillo in Spain), Tinta Cau and Tinta Barroca. Wine making is an art form here, and the attention to detail makes all the difference. On this week long tour, you will explore all elements of the production, taste old vintages with winemakers and cellar-masters, and tour the highly unique vineyards. You will wander the cellars of sleepy oak barrels, inspect the grapes, pair Douro wines with food, and discover an opulent slice of the gastronomic world.
Your handcrafted tour will take several days in Porto before the rest at a wine estate deep in the Douro Valley. The river connects the two destinations, and you can travel by boat, using both sail and motor to twist deeper into the valley. Porto also provides an old-world city experience, grand architecture married with atmospheric local culture and the beautiful blue of azulejo tile facades. The Douro Valley is remote, little more than a few villages and the vineyards. Escapist and enchanting, this is a place that will provide a break from the world alongside your immersion in all the glorious red wine and cuisine.
Relax on the river when you arrive in Porto, a quick boat trip showing you the two urban sides of the Douro. Porto clusters around one side of the river, steps and slopes rising from the waterfront. To the other side is Nova de Gaia, where you will find all of the world’s famous port cellars. With three days, you can mix experiences in the city with in-depth port exploring. Visit multiple cellars, take a private vintage port masterclass, track the process from grape to production, and come to understand the legend behind the wine. Handpicked dining recommendations are provided each day, and Porto has some of the finest options in Europe, the cuisine as distinguishable as the alcohol.
Cruise down the Douro Valley half way through your trip for an ideal way to slow down your pace and admire the landscape. Check in to a boutique five-star hotel on the river, close to the historic village of Pinhao. Take several days and evenings with the wine as you tour vineyards, taste with winemakers, visit famous brands and unknown producers, and continue the journey through Douro food. Wines pair effortlessly with the cuisine, and you can indulge all the way through to a cooking demonstration and a leisurely cruise back to Porto, where your final night on tour is spent back in the city.
$4,395 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
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Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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