Douro Valley, in northern Portugal, is the first demarcated and regulated wine region in the world. Douro Valley wines are some of the best wines in the world, but are not widely known.
Not only does the Douro Valley produce some of the finest, affordable and underrated Portuguese wines, it also offers a beautiful and magical landscapes.
Our quest for authentic food in Portugal had us discover the delightful Portuguese wines paired with our meals. Pleasantly surprised by the breath and flavors of the wines, we eagerly explored Douro Valley wines in one of Portugal’s historic wine growing regions.
Taking a Douro Valley wine tour is a wonderful step back in time. Douro Valley wineries are traditional and charming and many can be found along the Douro River.
Join us as we explore Douro Valley wines and the hidden secrets of Portuguese wines on Douro Valley tours of three exceptional wineries.
Douro Valley Tours of Three Amazing Douro Valley Wineries
The Douro Valley is an exceptionally beautiful, historic wine region. The area is most famous for being the home of Port Wines, but over the last few decades, exceptional table wines have emerged. Today, wines from the Douro Valley are evenly split between Port and Douro Valley table wines.
The grape varietals used are native to Portugal and not commonly grown elsewhere. The climate is very particular and described by locals as “nine months of winter, three months of hell.”
Temperatures can soar above 40°C (104 °F) during the Summer months and sometimes even hitting 50°C (122 °F). The extreme heat causes the grapes to grow thick skins, which impart unique characteristics to the wines.
The following three wineries are some of the best wineries in the Douro Valley. Be sure to include these stops on your Douro Valley tours.
1. Quinta Nova – Exceptional Douro Valley Wine Tour
Quinta Nova, which dates back to 1725 is one of the oldest and most impressive wineries in the Douro Valley. On our visit, we learned that since their acquisition in 1999 by Group Amorim, the largest producer of cork in the world, Quinta Nova made the strategic decision to focus on producing only table wines. The goal, the best wines in the Douro Valley.
Our personal tour started in the vineyards, looking out over the 120 hectares (350 acres) of vines. The land is divided into parcels, planted with only one Portuguese grape variety.
The top five Portuguese grape varieties grown at the vineyard are; Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Touriga Roriz, Tinto Cão and Tinta Francisca.
One of the highlights of the tour was visiting their onsite Wine Museum or Museu do Vinho. This personal collection of the Amorim Family, tells the story, not only of Quinta Nova, but of the wine production in the Douro Valley.
Many of the pieces date back to the 19th century and include relics such as ancient tools for picking grapes, old wooden presses for the wines, the old bottling process, and much more.
This is a fascinating stop to see the old techniques used to produce the amazing Douro Valley wines.
Following the tour, you will want to eat. Conceitus Winery Restaurant at Quinta Nova is a gastronomy restaurant with a focus on local food. At the time of our visit, which was off-season, the restaurant was closed. Instead, we had petiscos (Portuguese tapas) in the tasting room.
We were served an overflowing plate of different cuts of amazing ham, olives, cheese, dried fruit and bread. Everything was incredibly delicious and perfect for accompanying the wines. The atmosphere was relaxed with spectacular views of the Douro Valley.
Even though the petiscos cost triple the amount you would pay in Porto, the experience was worth it. Not to mention, you’ll need something to counter the effects of the delicious Douro Valley wine tasting.
Quinta Nova Wine Tasting Tours
Three different wines were offered for the tasting. One white wine, Pomares, and two red wines. One red wine was Quinta Nova Colheita and the second, Quinta Nova Terroir Blend Reserva.
Each of the wines had distinctive characteristics. The Pomares was light and refreshing, with fruity aromas. The perfect wine for a hot day.
The reds were intense, strong in structure and with an elegant finish. The tasting portions are rather robust and equivalent to a full of glass wine.
You’ll definitely want to have petiscos as you relish the distinct flavors of these Douro Valley wines.
Address: 5085-222 Covas do Douro – Portugal
Tours: Book your tour in advance. Tours in English are available.
Price: Douro Valley wine tours priced at €16 euros per person though pricing may increase during the high season.
Hours: Our off-season tour was at 10:00 am. Call ahead for hours and availability
Accommodations: Quinta Nova also offers luxury accommodations at the one the best Douro Valley hotels, with an exceptional restaurant and spectacular views
Tip: Generous servings of Douro Valley wines. Eat at the restaurant or enjoy petiscos in the Tasting Room.
2 – Casa Ferreirinha Wines – the Most Important Female Wine Producer in the Douro Valley
The wines by Casa Ferreirinha are some of the best in the Douro Valley and should be in your Douro Valley wine tour.
Famously run by Dona Antónia Ferreira, she was a woman much ahead of her time. She achieved one of the biggest fortunes in the country in the 18th century.
Furthermore, she confronted the men who dominated the Port Wine commerce to produce some of the best Douro Valley wines.
In 1987, Portugal’s biggest wine producing company, Sogrape, acquired Casa Ferreirinha. The company added Casa Ferreirinha wines to their portfolio of Port wine brands such as Sanderman, Offley, among others.
And, while visiting Sanderman to discover their Port wines, we took the opportunity to taste the famous Casa Ferreirinha red and white wines.
Read more about tasting Port Wines in Porto
Casa Ferreirinha Douro Valley Wine Tasting
Ferreira wines are synonymous with high-quality Portuguese wine. Under the direction of Dona Antónia, these wines were the reference point for exceptional Douro Valley wines.
The tasting of the Douro Valley wines includes two different red wines and one white wine. We enjoyed the wines and found them elegant and not overpowering. The reds had wonderful juicy fruit flavors while the white wine was bright with tropical fruit aromas.
On your Douro Valley tour, don’t miss Casa Ferreirinha wines for their historical importance and wonderful flavors.
Address: Valença do Douro, Tabuaço, Douro Valley
Tours: Book your tour in advance and be prepared to relish the astonishing views of the Douro Valley
Price: The Douro Valley wine tours are priced at €16 euros per person. There are also classic Port wine tours which are priced at €12 euros per person
Hours: From November – February, Open from 10:30 am – 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm – 5:30 pm. From March to October, Open 10:30 am – 6:30 pm
Tip: Enjoy the award winning tasting room and try both the port and wine tastings
3 – Quinta do Tedo – Organic Douro Valley Wine Tasting
This small boutique winery is the first organic vineyard in the Douro Valley. While it dates back to the 18th century, organic grape growing started in 2007 and 2011 was their first completely organic harvest. The winery is currently in the process of getting their “organic certification.”
Quinta do Tedo is co-owned by a Frenchman (of the Bouchard family winemaker in Burgundy), his American wife and a Portuguese winemaker.
Traditional winemaking practices are still employed at Quinta do Tedo. The grapes are harvested by hand and the grape crushing process happens in the traditional style, where some of the grapes are stomped on by foot.
The vineyard also features a small agrotourism Quinta do Tedo B&B where you can stay and explore the region. Free bicycles are provided to guests and activities such as hiking, canoeing bird watching are available.
Located on the hilly slopes around the picturesque Tedo river, you’ll enjoy spectacular views of the valley.
Quinta do Tedo Organic Wine Tasting on Douro Valley Tours
We were surprised to find organic Douro Valley wines and were quite eager to try them. Quinta do Tedo makes only red wines.
The winery’s logo has a picture of the Black Wheatear bird, which according to the local traditions, the birds would show up to eat the grapes when they are perfectly ripe. So, the bird on the label signifies perfectly ripe grapes.
The organic Douro Valley wine tasting started with a light, floral Rosé Port. It was at that point, when Rosemary realized that she could taste the organic table wines and skip the Port wines. Instead of tasting three wines, Rosemary tried two different Douro Valley Reserve wines.
One was a Grande Reserva Savedra 2013, and the second, a Douro DOC Reserva 2014. Both red wines were excellent. Intense aromas with a hint of fruity flavors with the added complexity of spice and woody flavors.
These are very enjoyable and easy to drink organic Douro Valley wines.
Address: N-222 M512, Folgosa, Douro Valley
Tours: Tours offered in multiple languages.
Price: €10 euros per person, though pricing may increase during high season
Hours: April – October, Open 10:00 am – 7:00 pm. From November – March, Open 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
B&B: Check pricing for your stay at Quinta do Tedo
Tip: In addition to Douro Valley wine tasting and Port tasting, olive oil tasting are also available.
Where to Stay in the Douro Valley – The Best Douro Valley Hotels
Quinta Nova Luxury Winery House in Pinhão
While visiting Quinta Nova, you may want to consider simply staying at the Quinta Nova Luxury Winery House.
Described as “Heaven in the Douro Valley”, you can expect world-class amenities, a restaurant featuring exceptional regional cuisine, and excellent wine pairings. This is one of the best hotels in the Douro Valley.
Explore the historic sites around the wine hotel as you walk on the ‘walkers trails” or relax by the outdoor swimming pool. Slow down, enjoy the spectacular views and soak in the Douro Valley experience.
Vintage House Douro in Pinhão
Another option in Pinhão along your Douro Valley tours is this former 18th century wine estate. The Vintage House Douro is a luxury hotel with exceptional panoramic views overlooking the vineyards and the Douro Valley.
With a top amenities including an outdoor pool, tasting rooms and breakfast and regional cuisine, you have all your needs covered at one of the best places to stay in the Douro Valley.
Quinta do Tedo B&B in Folgosa
If you’re planning on a Douro Valley tour and visiting Quinta do Tedo, we recommend staying at Quinta do Tedo for a unique experience.
This family run bed and breakfast attached to the Quinta offers wonderful views, overlooking the Tedo River, olive trees and vineyards.
With a bistro offering local fare, you can extend your Douro Valley wine tasting with lunch or dinner. A tasty breakfast is served every morning.
Quinta do Tedo also provide bicycles, canoes and free use of binoculars for bird watching. This Douro Valley hotel is a gem in the valley.
Where to Eat in the Douro Valley
Casual Eatery in Pinhão
If you decide not to eat at Quinta Nova, Pinhão town, which is centrally located on your journey offers solid lunch options.
On your way back from Quinta Nova, we recommend Restaurante Cais da Foz. This casual, no-frills restaurant located just before the bridge that leads to Pinhão, is a local favorite. A simple menu with local Portuguese foods await.
Choose from grilled meat, fish or omelette served with homemade fries, rice and salad. Be sure to have a glass of local Douro Valley wine to accompany your meal. The portion sizes are quite generous. Plan to share or order accordingly.
This local restaurant is a nice stop to restore along your Douro Valley tour of wines.
Traditional Regional Portuguese Food in Tabuaço
For our trip to the Douro Valley, we chose to stay in Tabuaço, a small village up in the hills surrounded by the vineyards, a few miles from Pinhão.
Tabuaço offers a couple of options for dinner. We recommend O tachinho da té, a local restaurant serving traditional specialties from the region.
To start, you want to taste the Alheira sausages. These smoked traditional sausages from the northern region of Trás-os-Montes are served grilled as appetizers.
Read more about Alheira sausage and other Porto regional specialities
Don’t miss the specialty of the house, roasted veal with marinated rice called Filé de Vitela arroz de grelos com moira.
The veal was very tender and juicy. The rice is marinated with Rapini, a type of broccoli, olive oil, and pieces of Moira, a traditional blood sausage.
The Moira sausage is prepared with red wine, blood, garlic, onion and laurel. This rice dish is soupy and flavorful, with the sausage giving wonderful smoked pork aromas.
The food is plenty and the meat delicious. Prepare to share or go with a big appetite.
How to Get from Porto to Douro Valley
Located only an hour and a half from Porto, Pinhão is the main town to explore the Douro Valley wines. To get to Pinhão, you have a choice between three modes of transportation; car, train, boat or cruise.
Porto to Douro Valley by Car
Driving way is our preferred way of visiting Douro Valley wineries. With many wineries not easily accessible from the train station, renting a car offers you greater flexibility. You get to explore the countryside and make stops anywhere along the way.
Renting a car is very affordable in Portugal. For only €5 euros per day, we rented an economy car from Avis Car Rental company.
The only inconvenience is that the sales agent will try to upsell you with anything and everything. One element to be cautious about is the toll pass. You don’t need to take the highway and you won’t have any secondary roads tollway. Nonetheless Avis agents will insist you need a toll pass, when you really don’t.
That said, you want to be careful and avoid taking the tollways as the road signs can be misleading. The overall the journey to Douro Valley is very enjoyable using the secondary roads.
Once you get closer to Peso da Régua the main town before Pinhão, keep in mind that the only options to cross the Douro River is either in Pinhão or Peso da Régua.
Porto to Douro Valley by Train
Taking the Linha do Douro (Douro Line) train is one of the most picturesque ways to visit Douro Valley wineries.
See the train timetable for daily departures from the two main stations in Porto, São Bento and Campanha.
The train connects Porto with the small village of Pocinho. A single ticket to Pocinho costs €13.30 and the train journey takes about three and a half hours,
The three popular stops along the route are Pinhão, a port-producing town with beautiful Portuguese tiles. Tua, at the confluence of Tua River and Douro. And finally Pocinho, a small easy to navigate village in the heart of the wine region.
Historical Douro Valley Train
Between June and October you can take the Historical Douro Valley Train along the Douro River. This steam locomotive train with 5 historical carriages runs from Régua and Tua through the beautiful landscapes.
Enjoy onboard entertainment with regional singers as well as toasts with glasses of Port wines. The train runs on Saturday afternoons only and tickets can be purchased in advance.
Click the link to see the Historical Douro Valley Train hours, pricing and booking information.
Douro River Cruises – Porto to Douro Valley by Boat
One unique way of exploring the Douro Valley is by taking a cruise along the Douro Valley. There are many types of Douro river cruises available. You can take a one day tour on a traditional Portuguese Rabelo boat and enjoy pure relaxation as you take in views of the magnificent Douro Valley.
With rich and bold red wines, the Douro Valley is a magical place for a Douro Valley tour to discover native Portuguese grape varieties. It is quite an amazing experience to taste the results of ancient grapes growing on steep terraced vineyards under harsh conditions.
Douro Valley wines and the wines of Portugal will not leave you indifferent. The wineries despite the rustic atmospheres offer intimate world class visits with tours offered in multiple languages.
While on a Douro Valley wine tours adopt the local slow pace. Do not rush to the next Douro Valley winery visit. Instead, take your time and admire the magnificent valley.
Choose to visit just a few of the best Douro Valley wineries. Go for quality over quantity. Not to mention, with the steep and rugged terrain, you will want to drive safely as you make your way to the different wineries.
The charming northern Portuguese villages offer some of the best Douro Valley hotels. Likewise, the regional cuisine is exceptional and a treat for your taste buds.
Going on Douro Valley tours will have you fall in love with its magical landscape, local cuisine and exquisite Douro Valley wines.
Have you visited the Douro Valley and had Douro Valley wines? In the comments below, please tell us your favorite experience in the region.
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Claire is a culinary explorer who travels the world in search of the best local foods. She is always looking for her next culinary adventure to bring you the best bites while exploring new places.