Portugal is considered to be one of the world`s safest countries. The Global Peace Index ranks Portugal as number three. Being away from the main cities, the Douro Valley is one of the safest regions in the entire country. The Portuguese are a gentle, peace-loving people.
Are there any age restrictions?
Due to legal restrictions concerning the consumption of wine, the minimum age of our participants is 18. There is no upper limit.
Should we be incredibly fit?
Our wine tours are not marathons! If you are used to regular exercise, you will be okay with our medium-activity-level vineyard walks and the standing and stairs involved in winery visits. If you have limited mobility, please discuss this with us before booking.
Is it possible to have more than four people in our group?
Our goal is to offer a personal and more intimate experience than larger commercial tours. We aim to achieve this by attending to individual preferences in a very attentive manner. Some of the vineyards we go to aren’t open to the general public. We do our best to “leave a light footprint” as we visit while they are tending to their business of winemaking. We therefore prefer to lead wine tours for groups of minimum two and maximum four people.
Is it necessary to be a wine expert?
No, just be a wine lover! Grape Discoveries is designed for enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike. You will discover the Douro wine region in a relaxed atmosphere and, besides visiting wineries and wine tasting, you will learn about the Douro's history, meet interesting local people, go on vineyard walks, and eat fresh local foods prepared in Quinta kitchens.
Some wine tasting tips:
It is recommended to drink water during wine tastings to stay hydrated in the higher altitude and drier inland climate.
Most tastings provide an (optional) spitting vase. So don’t feel compelled to drink all the wine in your glass, especially if it’s not to your taste.
Restrained use of personal perfumes makes it easier for all participants to learn from and enjoy the unique aromas for each wine type.
Which grape varieties are grown and what kind of wine will we taste?
Traditional Portuguese grape varieties grown in the unique Douro terroir are for reds: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Roriz; and for whites: Gouveio, Rabigato and Viosinho.
We will taste Douro DOC non-fortified or table wines, including reds, whites and rosés, and Port wines.
Recent innovations in Douro winemaking have tended to focus on lighter red wine styles than those made traditionally, and exciting new whites.
How is the Douro different from other notable wine regions?
The Douro wine country is located on either side of the River Douro. Protected from the harsh Atlantic weather by the Serra do Marao mountain range, this demarcated area has a Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers and cold wet winters.
Many of the most famous wine estates (“Quintas” in Portuguese), and those producing the most exceptional wines and Port, are found in the Cima Corgo area, around the small town of Pinhao. Spectacularly steep terraced vineyards rise up from the river and cover the surrounding hillsides.
Here, in this breathtakingly beautiful but inhospitable landscape, vines and wine makers are equally challenged. The vine plant roots must dig deep down into granite-based or schist-covered soil to seek water; creating, caring for and harvesting a vineyard on this steep terrain, is hard physical work, much of which can only be done by hand.
Natural conditions are, however, by no means entirely working against the Douro`s talented wine makers. An exceptional diversity of sun expositions and altitudes, and the extensive palette of local grape varieties, all combine to form a unique terroir ideal for creating complex full-bodied red wines, crisp minerally whites and magnificent Ports.
What is included in each wine tour price?
Almost everything during your wine tour is included in the price: pick up and drop off at your desired location in Porto, transport in a comfortable air-conditioned SUV, all visits to wineries with wine tastings, and meals. We do not include flights or travel to the agreed meeting point with us.
We only accept payment in euros, at the stated tour price, regardless of any currency fluctuations. Portugal is part of the Euro zone and one of the best value countries in Europe. Tipping in Portugal is welcomed - the amount is up to you.
Where does each wine tour begin and end and how do we get there?
We will meet you in Porto: at your hotel, or wherever is convenient for you. At the end of your wine tour, we will take you back to Porto.
Portugal's vibrant second city is the gateway to the Douro Valley. Not only is there a lot to do in Porto, but it also has an excellent modern airport with 12 different direct flights from North America to Portugal, and from many major European cities. There is an efficient rail service from Portugal´s capital, Lisbon, to Porto, which takes about three hours. Portugal also has an excellent motorway network, with Porto only three hours' drive from Lisbon.
Is it possible to go at our own pace?
Yes, indeed! You are on holiday and if you want to slow down (or speed up!), that's up to you. We can always give you time for that special photo, let you linger at the lunch table or take a slower route back.
Do customers have full financial protection?
Details of customers' financial protection are given under the Booking Conditions (clause 10).
What is the cancellation policy?
We accept cancellations, however we reserve the right to apply cancellation charges as we incur costs from the moment we confirm your booking. Details of these charges are given under the Booking Conditions (clause 4). You may cancel your booking by sending an email to email@example.com. If it is physically impossible for a tour to go ahead, it will be cancelled. Examples of Force Majeure include natural disasters, extreme weather conditions or fuel shortages. We will immediately refund you in these cases.
Is English widely spoken in Portugal?
Many Portuguese speak good English.
We operate our wine tours in English. We also speak fluent French.
Do you have any packing advice?
Please bring a comfortable pair of shoes for walking in the vineyards. A hat, sun glasses, and sun protection are also essential most of the year. It is a good idea to bring a sweater or light jacket and scarf for spring or fall evenings, as well as a waterproof jacket, season dependent. Our comfortable SUV has plenty of rear and luggage space, but please pack compactly.
Do you recommend any books and films about the Douro and Portugal?
Eça de Queiroz, The City and the Mountains.
Miguel Torga, New Tales from the Mountain.
Roger Crowley, Conquerors.
Barry Hatton, The Portuguese: A Modern History.
Richard Mayson, The Wines and Vineyards of Portugal.Films:
Manoel de Oliveira, Faina Fluvial, Vale Abraão.
Paulo Rocha, O Rio do Ouro
What are the main historical dates related to the Douro?
100-300 AD: The Romans introduce improved viticulture to the Douro.
1703: The Methuen Treaty opens up new markets for port wine exports to Britain.
1756: The Douro becomes the first protected wine region in the world.
1868: Arrival of Phylloxera in the Douro.
2001: The Alto Douro Wine region is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and Cultural Landscape.
2014: 3 out of the top 5 in the Wine Spectator "Top 100 Lists" are Douro wines.