Douro Valley is a region in the Northeast of Portugal. Crossed by the Douro River, the region has been producing wines for over 2,000 years, Port Wine standing out among them.
It became famous in the middle of the 17th century when Port Wine started to be exported, mainly to England. But with the high profits obtained from this, frauds appeared and the wines were adulterated, thus altering their quality. The producers then requested government intervention, which in 1756 created the “Companhia Geral da Agricultura das Vinhas do Alto Douro”.
The main responsible for this government intervention was the Marquis of Pombal, who thus created the first demarcated and regulated region in the world. A region was demarcated with 201 granite milestones and in 1761 a further 134 milestones were placed, making a total of 335 “marcos pombalinos”.
The Douro and its tributaries are now more than ever covered with terraces supported by schist walls that carry vines full of bunches of white or red grapes. The life of these people as well as the Douro landscape is profoundly altered by the production of wines. In winter there is an extremely calm climate in the region, which in turn gives rise to intense activity in late summer and early autumn.
At the beginning of the 20th Century, the demarcated region was extended to the Upper Douro.
In 2001, UNESCO classified part of the entire demarcated region – around twenty-four thousand hectares – as World Heritage, in the cultural landscape category.
With this recognition, the Douro region is benefiting even more from tourism demand – river cruise ship traffic has intensified, the numerous estates have opened their doors to tourist visits and the historic train has returned to the Douro line for rides.
The region is constantly changing, from the appearance of new hotels to the recovery and adaptation of old properties into rural hotels or rural tourism houses.
See here several options of Wine Tourism.