A Day in the Douro Valley

Posted by Christine moghadam

It’s been a week since my feet landed on Portuguese pavement and coming back here reminds me why I love it here so much. 

I am not only charmed by the landscape and architectural beauty but even moreso by the people and their culture that have me convinced, Portugal is beautiful because of them.  There is an authenticity that lies beneath their smile. they welcome you as if you were part of their family.  After traveling to several countries, I have concluded that no culture welcomes you like the Portuguese and no one makes wine like the Portuguese.  Every day here in Porto has had its highlights, but one of my most memorable one is our day spent in the Douro Valley with wine expert, Marco Pinto.

Marco went out of his way to receive us at our hotel and make the hour and a half drive to the Douro Valley.  Little did we know what surprises awaited us.  As he proceeded to explain in depth the history of Port wine, I realized as simple as it sounded… it was so much more.  It was the process, the history, the love and care that the winemakers pour into making their wine. 

Suddenly, I looked outside and was literally struck in awe at the breathtaking beauty…

Luscious green hills overlooking the river and vineyards stretching for miles in every direction.  Beauty I have never seen or experienced.  Pictures don’t do it justice. 

To imagine that the Douro Valley used to be nothing but rocky mountains is unfathomable. It seems nearly impossible to turn a place covered in rocks to produce endless vineyards of grapes, olive trees and create such spectacular picturesque beauty.  

We made our first stop at a wine estate from the 13th century, Quinta de Tourais, owned by winemaker Fernando Coelho.  He welcomed us with a warm smile and led us into his home.   My youngest son who was also struck in awe at the endless acres of land couldn’t stop snapping pictures.  “It’s SO peaceful here!” he said as he tried to climb up the orange tree with his camera.

  


Fernando’s home was built back in the 13th century and renovated several years ago.  It was obvious he had an eye for design. The exterior of the courtyard pavement to the paintings on his walls told a story.  Passed down from generations, a lot of life, hard work and love was put into this home and into each bottle of wine that was poured. 

If only I could have stayed a while longer to hear more stories, time wasn’t enough at Fernando’s.  But for the moment we were there it gave me more than just a taste. 

Fernando kindly gave me one of his signature wines with his autograph on it.  I told him one day we will be back to stay a few nights at his bed and breakfast. 


We drove further down the Valley to the river where we stopped at Michelin starred DOC founded by Chef Rui Paula. We were served an exquisite three course meal and seated overlooking the stunning Douro River.  Marco knew Chef Rui Paula quite well and began giving us his background story.  A man from Oporto who was inspired to take his roots combined with his taste for cooking and turn it into a success. Amazing food, spectacular views, great company, it was an experience we will never forget.