Douro Valley, in northern Portugal, is the first demarcated and regulated wine region in the world. In addition to the famous Port wines, this spectacular region also produces some of the best wines in the world.
Our quest for authentic food in Portugal had us discover the delightful Portuguese wines paired with our meals. Pleasantly surprised by the breadth and flavors of the wines, we were eager to visit Portugal’s historic wine growing region.
Not only does the Douro Valley produces some of the finest, affordable and underrated wines, it also offers beautiful and magical landscapes.
Visiting the traditional and charming wineries nested near the Douro River is a wonderful step back in time. While admiring the views and sipping the amazing red wines, you quickly adopt the local pace and soak in the serene atmosphere.
Let’s take a tour of three local wineries and learn about the hidden secrets of Portuguese and Douro Valley wines.
How to Get to the Douro Valley
Located only an hour and a half from Porto, Pinhão is the main town to explore Douro Valley wines. To get to Pinhão, you have the choice between three modes of transportation; boat, car or train.
With most wineries not easily accessible from the train station, it’s very handy to rent a car. You also get a chance to see the countryside and make stops 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 there are no tollways on the secondary roads. Nonetheless, Avis agents will insist you need a tollpass, when you really don’t.
It is true you want to be careful and avoid the tollways, as the road signs can be misleading. Though, overall the trip to the Douro Valley is very enjoyable on 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 Peso da Régua or Pinhão which is 27km further away.
Three Great Names of Douro Valley Wines
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 known 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 make exceptional Douro Valley wines and are wineries worth visiting on your travels to the Douro Valley.
1 – Quinta Nova – High-Quality Douro Valley Wines
Quinta Nova, which dates back to 1725 is one of the oldest and most impressive wineries in the Douro Valley. During 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 intimate tour started in the vineyards, looking out at the 120 hectares (350 acres) of vines. The land is divided into parcels, planted with only one Portuguese grape variety. The top five 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.
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. A fascinating stop to see the old techniques used to produce the amazing wines from the region.
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 price you would pay in Porto, the experience is worth it. Besides, you’ll need something to counter the effects of the wine tasting.
Quinta Nova Wine Tasting
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 of wine.
You’ll definitely want to have petiscos as you relish the flavors of the wines.
Address: 5085-222 Covas do Douro – Portugal
Tours: Book your tour in advance, tours offered in English
Price: Tour priced at €16 euros per person, pricing may increase in high season
Hours: Our off-season tour was at 10:00 am. Call for hours
Accomodations: Quinta Nova also offers luxury accommodations with an exceptional restaurant and spectacular views
Tip: Generous servings of wine, eat in advance or pay gourmet prices at the restaurant or for petiscos
2 – Casa Ferreirinha Wines – the Most Important Female Producer in the Douro Valley
The wines by Casa Ferreirinha are some of the best in the Douro Valley and worth seeking out on your trip. 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, confronted the men who dominated Port Wine commerce to produce one of the best wines in the Douro Valley.
In 1987, Portugal’s biggest wine producing company, Sogrape, acquired Casa Ferreirinha. The company already owned the famous Port Wine brands Sanderman, Offley among others.
While visiting Quinta do Seixo – Sanderman to discover their port wines, we took the opportunity to taste Casa Ferreirinha red and white wines.
Casa Ferreirinha Wine Tasting
The tasting included two different red wines and one white wine. The wines were elegant and not overpowering. The reds had wonderful juicy fruit flavors while the white wine was bright with tropical fruit aromas.
Ferreira wines are synonymous with high-quality Portuguese wine, and under the direction of Dona Antónia, were the reference point for exceptional Douro wines.
Don’t miss Casa Ferreirinha wines for their historical importance and wonderful flavors.
Address: Tabuaço, Douro Valley.
Tours: Book your tour in advance and be prepared to relish the astonishing views of the Douro Valley
Price: Wine tours €16 euros per person, Classic Port wines tours €12 euros per person
Hours: November – February, 10:30 am – 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm – 5:30 pm; March to October, 10:30 am – 6:30pm
Tip: Take your time at the award-winning tasting room and try both the port and wine tastings
Quinta do Tedo – Organic Wines from the Douro Valley
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 the first completely organic harvest. They are currently in the process of getting their “organic certification.”
The vineyard is now 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 Wine Tastings
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 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 reserve wines.
One was a Grande Reserva Savedra 2013, and the second, Douro DOC Reserva 2014. Both red wines were excellent. Intense aromas with a hint of fruity flavors and the added complexity of spice and woody flavors. These are enjoyable and easy to drink organic wines.
Address: Folgosa, Douro Valley
Tours: Amazing views and incredible organic wines, tours offered in multiple languages
Price: €10 euros per person, pricing may increase in high season
Hours: April – October, 10:00 am – 7:00 pm; November – March, 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
B&B: Check pricing for your stay at Quinta do Tedo
Tip: If you want to the wine tasting, be sure to ask for it. Olive oil tasting also available
Click below to see additional Douro Valley tours and book online:
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 omelet served with homemade fries, rice, and salad as well as the local red wine. Be aware of the large portions and plan to share. This local restaurant is a nice stop to restore before your next winery stop.
Address: EM590, Pinhão, Portugal
Hours: Every 11:00 am to 10:00 pm (during summer season)
Price: About €7 to €8 euros for a main dish (approx $8 to $9 usd)
Traditional Regional Portuguese Food in Tabuaço
On our trip in 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 an appetizer. To read more about the Alheira sausages, read our article about Porto regional foods.
Don’t miss the specialty of the house, the 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 very flavorful with the sausage giving wonderful smoked pork aromas.
The food is plenty and the meat delicious. Prepare to share or come with a big appetite!
Address: R. Conde Ferreira, 5120-400 Tabuaço, Portugal
Hours: Everyday, 9:00 am to 11:30 pm; Sunday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Price: About €8 to €12 euros for a main dish (approx $9 to $14 usd)
With bold and rich red wines, the Douro Valley is a magical place to tour the local wineries and discover native Portuguese grapes. It is fascinating to taste the results of grapes growing on steep terraced vineyards under harsh conditions.
The wines of Portugal and the Douro Valley will not leave you indifferent. The wineries, despite the rustic atmospheres, offer intimate world-class visits with tours offered in multiple languages.
While visiting the local wineries, adopt the local slow pace. Do not rush to the next visit, take your time to admire the landscape; choose quality other quantity. In any case, the steep and curvy roads will bring you back to reason.
The charming villages await for your stay and your palate will thank you. A visit in the Douro Valley will have you fall in love with its magical landscape, local cuisine and exquisite wines.
Additional Resources: Where to Stay in the Douro Valley
Quinta Nova Luxury Winery House Outside Pinhão
While visiting Quinta Nova, you may want to consider simply staying on site 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.
Slow down, enjoy the spectacular views and soak in the Douro Valley experience.
Quinta do Tedo B&B in Folgosa
If you’re planning on 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 the vineyards.
With a bistro offering local fare, you can extend your tasting with a lunch or dinner. A delicious breakfast is served every morning.
Quinta do Tedo also provide bicycles, canoes and free use of binoculars for bird watching. This is a real gem in the valley!
Vintage House Douro in Pinhão
If you’re planning on staying in Pinhão on your trip to the Douro Valley, treat yourself to the Vintage House Douro.
A former 18th-century wine estate, this luxury hotel offers panoramic views overlooking the vineyards, the Douro and the Valley. With a large breakfast and a restaurant on site, you have all your needs covered in the heart of the valley.
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Claire is a culinary explorer and the engineer brain behind Authentic Food Quest. Together with her partner, Rosemary, they created Authentic Food Quest to inspire people to travel deeper through authentic food. Through food, they believe, people can have more meaningful connections on their travels. Take the quiz and find out your Food Traveler Profile.