As a side trip from Porto, we arranged a private tour to the wine country of the Douro River Valley. Melissa found a tour operated by Jorge “Barefoot” Matias on Trip Advisor and we were not disappointed. Jorge is a lovely man and will custom make a tour for you. We just put ourselves in his capable hands and let him take us where he chose.
First of all, the Douro Valley is incredibly beautiful. Pictures can’t capture it (though we tried with more than 200 snaps, some of which are shared here). Our ride up (see the end of this post) in the relatively early morning was beautiful as the mists were rising up off the rivers and valleys and the sun was welcoming the day.
Our first stop was a defunct family run olive oil produced and winery (still a vineyard and olive grove but production is now modernized and done off site). We received a lesson on traditional olive oil and wine production followed by an olive oil, honey and wine tasting. Good morning Douro Valley!
Breakfast was followed by a float down the river in Jorge’s boat, learning about the history of the valley and the vertical planting of the vines and olive grove borders which were once used to demarcate one vineyard from another (until they started buying each other up). We also learned about the spacing of the vines to be wider to allow for machinery to help with the process, but could lead to more erosion. Time will tell.
A private lunch and a tour of the operation at Casa do Bucheiro, by Jorge who once worked there, followed.
Our final stop was at Quinta do Infantado, primarily a port producer, since 1816. The family members to whom this business was handed down and who run it now give a very detailed tour of the port making process and the history of port production itself.
Unhurried and personalized, we strongly recommend a day with Jorge.
Don’t believe me though, check out his website for yourself: https://www.jorgebarefoot.com/douro-valley-guide/. Read the “Why me” and you’ll be hooked.
Tip: we didn’t check the train schedule when we booked Jorge and thought the train to Pinhao was only an hour and, to our surprise, we realized we would need to catch the 7:15 am train from Campanha in Porto and then not get home until after our dinner reservation was long over so we used gettransfer.com and it was well worth it. Next time we would overnight in Pinhão. There isn’t much to do there, currently, but if Jorge has anything to say about it, there will be more there very soon.