Our travels in Portugal originated in Comporta and Porto, covered in a prior post, and next up was the absolutely stunning Duoro Valley wine country. I knew from the pictures I had studied that it was going to be a beautiful place, but it is hard to describe the majesty of the mountains and how incomprehensibly vast it is without experiencing it in person. If you are ever in Portugal, this is not to be missed — no matter if you are a wine beginner or a sommelier.
We drove the short drive from Porto to Duoro Valley and made a few stops on the way. Duoro Valley is the oldest demarcated wine region in the world. First, the river carved the deep valleys out of the land, the mountains were cut to allow plantings, and terraces are carved to expose the vines to the rays of the sun which give the grapes the warmth that they need. It is a truly unique terrain.
There are only a few towns here: Peso da Régua, Lamego, and in Pinhão. For the most part it’s wine country with just enough tourism to support.
Duoro Valley Wine Country – What We Loved
Quinta de Avelada
We stopped at Quinta de Avelada winery on the Vinho Verde trail on the way from Porto into the valley. We have some white wine lovers in our group, and we also wanted to be sure to try at least one of the wineries in this area, despite not being super close in proximity to many of the wineries on the trail.
Vinho Verde is a demarcated and law-protected Portuguese wine region. It is one of the 14 Portuguese wine regions, a list that also accounts for Douro. People wonder how Vinho Verde got its name and while no one can say for sure, it is an area full of lush green vegetation.
Six Senses Duoro Valley
Six Senses is a luxury wellness resort in the town of Lamego with a gorgeous contemporary minimalist vibe. The spa there is one of Portugal’s most serious, with programs to help improve sleep and age more holistically. We stopped here for lunch and wine on our way into the valley, and it did not disappoint!
It’s not like me to take so few food pictures, but the scenery here was just too distracting!
Quinta do Crasto
I knew the wines of Quinta do Crasto, but also saw that they are one of the worlds’ top ten most beautiful wineries. I knew we had to work it in, and we absolutely loved our experience there.
Pinhão is the small little town in the heart of Duoro Valley right by the river. At the center of town is a picturesque train station, and there are wineries stacked on either side of the river, in the terraced landscape.
Cozinha de Clara
We ate lunch at Cozinha de Clara, but I know it’s a popular spot for dinner as well. These views were perfection!
Quinta da Foz
Quinta da Foz was a late add to the itin and ended up being so much fun. The shaded patio setting was gorgeous, and we sat with a group of highly entertaining older men from England who were taking their annual guys’ trip. We sipped wine and shared stories, and could have kept talking to them for hours, had we not had more tastings to get to!
We stayed at Quinta Nova which is a winery known for its premium wines and ports. It is also a idyllic winery house resort with a great restaurant, perfectly situated right on the Duoro River.
What We Learned
One important thing to note about Duoro Valley is that it is HARD to drive around there. The main draw of the Douro region is the spectacular hills, valleys and views, so expect many tight turns, switchbacks and very demanding driving.
To put it bluntly, driving in the Douro Valley will scare the hell out of you and it is something you should be prepared for. This article (which I unfortunately did not see until AFTER OUR trip), did the best job of describing how it is to drive in the valley.
As a result, we did make a few changes in our itinerary to account for the tough driving conditions. Unfortunately, we had to miss our tasting at Quinta Do Vallado, which I was really looking forward to (one of the original Duoro wineries). It was just too far to handle the drive from where were coming from. And, my biggest tip is to stay somewhere you can eat at night, We lucked out in this regard with a great restaurant at our resort. While we had initially planned to explore other places nearby, it was just too much to risk in the dark.
We stayed in Duoro Valley two days and two nights. It was perfect for an on-the-go itinerary, although you could easily spend a week there rejuvenating and relaxing.
I keep saying the sights of the sun setting on these mountains in the Duoro Valley is a sight I won’t forget for as long as I live.
We loved you, Duoro. Check out part 3 in Lisbon and Sintra to see how we wrapped up our time in Portugal!