José Maria da Fonseca, Quinta do Crasto

Home to some of the most intense and complex vintages

The Douro River gives its name to one of the most stunning wine regions on Earth, the Douro Valley, whose centuries-old terraces have been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is where the oldest port wine appellation was born in 1756.

The region is divided into three sub-regions. To the west is Baxio Corgo, a more temperate area that is refreshed by the Atlantic Ocean. Here, cooler temperatures result in lighter wines. To the east, closer to the Spanish border, is Douro Superior. This wild land is marked by freezing winters and suffocatingly hot summers, neither of which are favourable for grape growing.

Between the two is Cima Corgo, the heart of Portugal. Protected from humid ocean currents, this area is home to two-thirds of Douro’s vines, most of which are Portuguese varieties: Sousao, Tina Amarela, Tinta Roriz, Gouveio, Rabigato and Viosinho, to name just a few. Some 45,000 hectares are dedicated to winegrowing in the Douro region, and that number continues to climb as a new generation of winemakers explores new terroirs. In the past 20 years, the quality of local wines has improved appreciably, much to the delight of the oenophiles who have made wine tourism in Portugal very trendy.

Douro’s producers craft some of the most intense and complex vintages in the country. There are separate DOCs for the non-fortified wines and port wines made in Douro, even though the two appellations cover the same geographic area.