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Portugal Douro and Port Bicycle Tour


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Porto and Douro
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Port wine is produced in the beautiful landscape of the Douro Valley in the Alto Douro region, a region that is now classified has World Heritage by UNESCO. The sun drenched terraced hills of the Douro Valley have produced Port since the 1600's and was also the first region of wine to be demarcated in the world.

Our Port wine tour begins in the city of Oporto in the World Heritage "Ribeira" (water front) where in the early morning through the mist you can see the rebelo boats coming in with there sails up flying the name of the maker, delivering the barrels of port to the warehouse. We will meet with producers and visit some of the most famous warehouses in Oporto.

Next we will head into the stunning region of the Alto Douro one of the most dramatic wine regions in the world. Staying in the small town of Pinhao the hub of the production for the Port wine in the famous Talyor Vintage House, engulfed by the beautiful valley of vineyards that surrounds us.

Separated from the sea by the Marão mountains and protected from the rainy winds of the Atlantic, the Douro valley has a climate of baking, dry summers and severe winters. It is a land of austere beauty.

The vineyards are dizzyingly steep: the vines must be planted on tiers of walled terraces, towering one above the other like the steps of the Pyramids, the product of centuries of Herculean labour.

Needless to say this is a truly remarkable part of the world and there is no better view of this unique landscape then from the saddle of bicycle.

A History of Port.

In the past the majority of port wine houses and still today some of the most famous (i.e Taylors, Grahams) were English, in fact some would argue that Port wine as we know it today only exists due to the English.

In 1678 the Brittish declared war on France and blockaded there ports which of course lead to an immediate shortage of wine. So England turned to Portugal its oldest alley for its wine needs and under the Treay of Methuen of 1703, England granted lower duties to Portuguese wines than to those of France and Germany becoming for over a century the principal market for the wines of the Douro Valley.

How Port came to be.

They established English trading companies in Oporto to ship the wines back to England, but these wines did not travel well, so the traders added Brandy to "fortify" them against the rigours of their Atlantic sea voyage. Before long pure grape spirit was added during fermentation and port as we drink it today was created.

The pionners of the Port trade soon found the fortifying process did far more than just protect the wine. It improved it, giving it the power to mature into something unique. Tranforming in the cool, peaceful lodges at Vila Nova de Gaia, across the Douro from Porto (Oporto), into the opulent and complex wine that we know today as Port.

The finest Port is produced from grapes grown on the steep and rocky slopes of the Upper Douro and its tributaries. Vines have been grown on these remote hillsides since pre-Romans times.

The distinctive character of Port does not come only from its method of production. Like that of every great classic wine, it is also born of an association of climate, soil and grape variety unique in the world.


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