The Douro Valley Wine Tour: an exclusive tour along a magnificent wine river
— A luxurious wine tour with spectacular views. Many wine regions lie along a famous river. But the Douro in Portugal is the most spectacular of them all! The landscape is dramatic and beautiful. The vines grow on break-neck slopes. We will enjoy two nights in a luxurious hotel along the Douro, a gem of calm and comfort. During the trip, we will get to know both the classic port wines and the more modern “table” wines that today reach world class. As well enjoy Portuguese gastronomy.
In this stunning landscape along the Douro River in northern Portugal, the vines grip the steep slopes with their fingernails, often with the help of narrow terraces. In summer it is very hot and dry, autumn is often lovely. The grapes will be transformed into the famous port wine but more and more also into “table” wine.
The new generation of winegrowers in the Douro valley has in a few decades gained a reputation for making excellent, world-class non-fortified “table” wines. It is difficult today to make a living only from port and it turns out that the climate and the soil are also perfect for table wines, both reds and whites.
From its source in Spain 300 miles east, where it is called the Duero, the Douro River flows west and joins the Atlantic in Porto. Already in Spain, it is the source of several wines but it is when it flows into Portugal that it becomes the origin of one of the world’s most famous wines, here in the Douro Valley.
The river landscape is spectacular and wild, but it has been tamed by wine growers many hundred years back. It used to be a dangerous and violent river but since a handful of dams were built in the mid-twentieth century it is now a calm waterway. There are no longer the old-fashioned barcos rabelos transporting wine from the quinta on the water down to Porto. Instead, you see cruise ships today.
We will drive up from Porto on winding roads, over the mountains with breath-taking views and into the wine districts.
We will get to know both the port wines and the red table wines of the region, and even a few whites. But calling these wines “table” wines may give the wrong impression. They are very serious wines with high ambitions.
The vineyards are very difficult to work and making wine here is a tough task. Making simple wines would hardly be worthwhile here. The winemakers focus on top-quality blends in order to gain an international reputation. Which they have done successfully.
It is good to see that many of the wines are made from genuine Portuguese grape varieties, rather than from international grapes that can be found anywhere in the world today. We will get to know wines made from touriga nacional, tinta roriz, touriga franca, souzão and others. Very exciting wines.
As demand for port is decreasing, more and more red table wine is being made. And the producers are discovering the enormous potential their grapes have for full-bodied and tasty table wines. This mix of port and high-quality table wine makes the Douro Valley a very exciting wine region to visit.
The tour starts in Porto (sometimes called Oporto). It is one of the biggest cities in Portugal although it does not count more than 200,000 inhabitants. The city centre is a gem, very old and winding streets climb the hills with many architectural sights as well as a wealth of restaurant, bars and cafes. You arrive in Porto on the Wednesday.
Porto is on the UNESCO list of Cultural World Heritage and a must to visit. Our hotel is centrally located with only a short walk down to the old harbour. An evening walk and a glass of port while enjoying the view across the river over the sister city of Vila Nova de Gaia cannot be avoided. It is actually in Vila Nova, and not in Porto, where all the port houses have their lodges. If you have the possibility we do recommend that you spend a day or two extra in Porto.
On Thursday morning our bus will pick us up at the hotel and we will start our journey into the Douro Valley, up the river. We will spend the following two nights in Alto Douro, the heart of the valley. Our hotel is a luxury hotel along the river. We will spend two nights here as well as have two dinners together.
Saturday evening we are back in Porto where we will spend our last night.
Our visits will be a mixture of big houses and small family producers. We visit 2 or 3 producers every day – travel is slow in the Douro on the narrow and winding roads. We will focus both on port wines and on table wines.
We will also have ample opportunities to get to know the traditional Portuguese food, a gastronomy of its own. Cooking is often traditionally rustic but high-class cuisine has also arrived in the Douro Valley. We will enjoy three lunches together as guests at the vineyards. On the Thursday and Friday evenings, we will also be enjoying two gastronomic dinners together.
The tour is led by one of BKWine’s wine and travel expert guides.
We have written a lot about the Douro Valley and about wine touring in the region, what to do and what to expect.
Here you can find more about travelling in the Douro Valley.
You can also find more information on the Douro Valley wines on BKWine Magazine.
Program — Douro Valley wine tour
For more details, contact BKWine.
- Day 1, Wednesday — Arrival in Porto
- Day 2, Thursday — Between Pinhao and Regua
- Day 3, Friday — High up in the upper Douro
- Day 4, Saturday — Tradition and modernity in the Douro
- Day 5, Sunday — Heading back home
Wednesday, October 17 — arrival in Porto
Arrival in Porto (read more on Porto on the link) at your leisure and time to check in at our centrally located hotel.
When you arrive in Porto you check in to our very central four-star hotel Hotel Carris Porto Ribeira****. It is in “the old town” just next to the old harbour with plenty of restaurants and bars within walking distance.
You should absolutely take a short walk down to the river and look across to Vila Nova de Gaia where the where all the traditional port lodges of the big brands are located: Taylor’s, Sandeman, Dow’s, Ferreira, Croft, Ramos Pinto etc.
Along the river, you can also see a few well-preserved samples of the traditional boats, barcos rabelos, used for transporting wines on the river.
There are plenty of restaurants and bars along the quay-side and if you want to stroll over to Vila Nova it is just a short walk across the Eiffel-inspired bridge.
The evening is free to discover Porto. One of the very best restaurants in the region is just around the corner from our hotel. Perhaps a good way to begin the tour?
Thursday, October 18 — Between Pinhao and Regua
Our comfortable bus picks us up in the morning and our journey across the mountain and along the river begins.
The road along the Douro River is slow and winding and to get a good start we take the motorway to Vila Real and Peso da Regua. From there we will go along the river more slowly, into the Alto Douro, the heart of the district. When we arrive there and you see it you will understand why this is on the UNESCO list of Cultural World Heritage!
This day we will visit some top quality wine producers who have invested heavily in recent years to gain world reputation not only for the port wines but also for the table wines.
The grape must destined to become port is often fermented in lagares, the traditional shallow stone troughs. Sometimes they are equipped with computer controlled pigeage, mechanical feet that replicates the stomping of human feet. But many producers still do tread the grapes with “real” people.
After a few kilometres along the river, we arrive at Quinta de Tedo, owned by the Frenchman Vincent Bouchard (with family ties to Bouchard Pere & Fils in Burgundy) and his American wife Kay. They bought this 250-year-old property, including 14 ha of vineyards, in 1992.
After a visit to the cellar and a thorough tasting, we sit down for a traditional lunch. We will, of course, taste the range of wines from the winery along the food, including some delicious ports, and we will taste their very exclusive olive oil.
After lunch, we will visit a quinta owned by one of the major port wine companies. It will be a big contrast to the small Quinta do Tedo.
The dimension is very different, but the landscape and the vineyards around this quinta are just as incredibly spectacular.
Late afternoon we check in at our hotel, the beautiful five-star Vintage House*****, located in the small town of Pinhão, which is one of the main towns in the wine region of Douro. Take a walk, relax in the garden or in the comfortable bar. Perhaps the weather even allows a swim in the pool.
Later in the evening, we all gather for aperitif and dinner in the hotel restaurant in classic English country style.
Friday, October 19 — Up, far into the Douro valley
After breakfast, we will continue our tour along the beautiful river, looking calm but actuall treacherous, to reach Santo Adrião .
We head upstream towards São João da Pesqueira where we will visit Quinta de Sra. do Rosario, perhaps better known as Quevedo Wines. Oscar Quevedo and his family have some 100 ha of vineyards in Cima Corgo and Douro Superior.
The road up to São João da Pesqueira is a never-ending series of curves and bends so one tends to grip the bus seat firmly. The views are spectacular.
Quevedo Wines makes both table wine and port, including some very exclusive tawny (barrel aged) ports. We will taste a series of older and older tawnies. Oscar started his career working in finance in Madrid and Geneva but has come back to the Douro some years back and is now working with his sister, who is the winemaker, to develop the family winery.
Oscar, still young, has already created a name for Quevedo Wines all over the world. Being young he has a talent for “social media” on the internet which certainly helps. It will be an interesting visit that will give you an insight into both wines and marketing.
We will have delicious lunch in the nearby town of Ervedosa. This is a family owned restaurant, very ambitious. We will be served different Portuguese specialities, everything delicious. The wine list is superb and we will try several different Douro wines with the lunch.
We stay in Ervedosa for our afternoon visit to a French-owned quinta with a state-of-the-art wine cellar and a breathtakingly beautiful view.
Late afternoon we are back in the hotel and we have time for a relaxing break before it’s time for our dinner together. We recommend a walk in the village of Pinhão to look at the beautiful azulejos, the painted tiles, at the small train station.
Saturday, October 20 — Tradition and modernity in the Douro Valley
We will leave our hotel in the morning and slowly begin our slow journey back to Porto. You must never be in a hurry in the Douro Valley!
But we will start the day with going to the small village of Vale de Mendiz. Mendiz is a tributary that joins the Douro near Pinhao. Here we will visit a family estate, specialized in Douro wines, that has received much attention in recent years. Here the grapes are still trodden in traditional lagars.
Then we head back towards Regua.
Our last visit on this tour will be at Quinta Senhora da Graca. This is a small family estate outside the village of Lobrigos, near Regua.
Here we have a beautiful view of the river and some very old vineyards, over 80 years old. We will meet Vasco, the owner and the winemaker, maybe both hs father and mother will be there too. After a short visit and a wine tasting, Vasco’s mother will serve us a typical Portuguese home-made lunch.
We always enjoy our lunch here very much and are often reluctant to leave. But after cheese and dessert, it will be time to start going back to Porto.
On our way back we pass once again the mountain range that protects the upper Douro from the maritime breezes and that gives the Douro Valley its very special climate, with sometimes stunningly hot summer days.
The upper Douro was long very isolated and a journey upriver could take many hours from Porto but today there is a modern and rapid highway.
Early evening we arrive back in Porto for a last night.
The evening is free to discover the restaurants and nightlife of Porto. We are happy to share with you our best restaurant addresses! Perhaps a stroll along the quayside, or a walk across the “Eiffel Bridge” to Vila Nova an all the water-front restaurants? Or a short trip to the coast and a visit to one of the fish restaurants? There is plenty to do in Porto.
Sunday, October 21 — Heading back home
The tour ends after breakfast. Departure.
The program may be subject to minor modifications.
Fact sheet — Wine tour to the Douro Valley in Portugal
Dates: October 17-21, 2018
Price per person: 1360 euro
Single room supplement: 340 euro
Included in the price:
- 4 hotel nights, double occupancy, including breakfast
- 2 nights in Porto in four-star Hotel Carris Ribeira Porto****
- 2 nights in the upper Douro Valley in five-star Vintage House*****
- Meals as described in the program above (*):
- 3 gastronomic multi-course lunches, including wines, at wineries or local restaurants
- 2 gastronomic multi-course dinners, including wines at Vintage House
- Start and end point: Porto
- Bus transport during the whole trip
- All vineyard and winery visits
- Private, high-quality tastings at wineries, approx. 3 per day
- Visits will be in English
- Wine guiding and wine tutoring by an expert BKWine guide
(*) See below for more important information on our meals.
- Travel (flights) to the destination and back from your home location.
You organise your travel to Porto yourself. If you want assistance with organising your flight tickets etc, please contact us.
We warmly recommend that you plan a few extra days here if you have the time! It is a very interesting place and well worth some “non-wine” tourism too! We can assist you with booking additional hotel nights if you want.
For this trip to take place we must have a minimum of 10 participants registered at the “book before” date.
Book This Tour
July 1, 2018. Sorry, fully booked. Contact us for info on the next tour
Booking is confirmed by paying the booking fee of 300 EUR. Full payment should be received at the latest one month before the departure date (see our terms and conditions). Details on how to pay will be sent to you when you register.
You book by contacting Britt Karlsson, BKWine:
- phone: +33 1 58 88 04 66 or +33 6 80 45 35 70 (+33 is the country code for France)
- Skype: “bkwine”. Call us on skype.
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org
More on our wine tours
About the wine producers and wineries we visit
Our aim is that you shall experience some of the best and most interesting that the wine region has to offer, both of wine and food.
We put a big effort into finding and creating outstanding winery visits. Often it will not be the most “famous” and internationally well-known wineries that will give you the best and most unique experiences…
It is usually when you get to meet the winemaker or winery owner himself (or often herself) that the visits become really exciting. And perhaps we even meet the whole family at the estate.
You start discussing and start to understand what it is they do and why in the winery and in the vineyard. Maybe we will also have lunch in the winery or at their home. Need we say we invariably have private wine tastings at the wineries?
That is why our trips are not “jam packed” with visits at wineries. Nevertheless we often run short of time since the discussions – and the wine tastings – can easily become very engaging…
Our wine country tours typically include a mix of small family producers, exclusive boutique wineries and larger internationally well-known wine estates, all selected with great care so that it will give you a unique experience of the people and of the behind-the-scenes in the winery and a good understanding of the wine district’s characteristics, tradition and culture.
At the time of publishing a travel program not all visits have been finalised. We are continuously working on improving the program. The domaines / wineries / châteaux that we visit on a tour may therefore sometimes differ from what was written in the original program. Contact us if you want more details, or if you have any special requests.
On meals: food and gastronomy
Wine and food are intimately linked. That is part of our wine travel philosophy; wine is an integral part of the gastronomy.
A wine tour with BKWine will therefore also be a gastronomic experience.
The meals that are included in a tour with BKWine are on a gourmet level and of very high standard.
Sometimes we will have a meal with a winemaker, perhaps in the wine cellar or at the winery, or even in their home. This is a unique experience that is generally not open to other visitors to wineries. It is an occasion to experience exciting combinations of food and wine while discussing with the people who made the wine.
Sometimes we will have a luxurious meal at a gourmet restaurant. At other times it may be not at a prestigious luxury address but at a local restaurant selected for its presentation of local gastronomic specialities, its atmosphere and its quality – a place where locals go. Or perhaps it will be a buffet lunch made at home by the winemaker and his wife. In all cases we want to show you local gastronomic specialities and the local food and wine pairings.
Do not expect a picnic with salad and sausage from the supermarket and wine in plastic mugs… Think instead of a wine-and-dine experience with specially composed menu with three or four courses and delicious wines.
A wine tour with BKWine is also a culinary experience both for the wine enthusiast and for the gourmet. A gourmet wine tour!
Why travel with BKWine?
We are experts and specialists in wine and food tours and wine tourism, but also in wine in a broader perspective.
No other tour operator has a comparable knowledge and experience of wine, wine regions, wine tours and gourmet travel as BKWine.
We have organised hundreds of wine and food tours. This is what we love to do, because it is fun and exciting. What we want more than anything is to share with you all these wonderful experiences.
It does not matter if you are “a total novice” on wine and food or if you have a life-long experience in the wine sector. We will give you a very special experience, in a way that no other tour operator can do.
We write in specialised wine magazines and one of our books has won the prize as best wine book in the world. We are regularly called on to be part of judging panels in wine competitions.
We personally visit some 300 vineyards every year. We have organised several hundreds of wine and food tours with an experience going back more than twenty years. We are invited as speakers at wine tourism and culinary touring conferences.
We choose our tour destinations and winery visits with great care. Not because a winery happens to be carrying a “famous name” but because they will give our guests — you! — a unique and special experience. You may be looking for a short wine week-end holiday or a longer wine vacation; in all cases you can be confident that you will get a top quality tour, an experience of a lifetime. Or at least one that will last you until the next time you come on a wine tour with BKWine. Many of our travellers are returning clients.
A wine and food tour with BKWine is always guided by a knowledgeable and experienced BKWine guide and tour manager, someone who knows the ins and outs of wine, of the local gastronomy, of the culture and who speaks the language.
Some accolades we at BKWine and our wine and food tours have received:
- “World’s Top Wine Tours” by Travel + Leisure Magazine, the world’s biggest travel magazine
- “Best wine tasting holidays”, AOL Travel’s list of top wine tours
- “Recommended Wine Tours” by Munskankarna, the world’s biggest wine tasting and wine appreciation association
- “World’s Best Wine Book for Professionals” as well as “Best Wine Book of the Year” in Sweden 2010 for the book The Creation of a Wine
- “Best wine book for Professionals” again in 2012 in Sweden, as well as silver, runner-up, as “World’s Best Educational Wine Book” for the book Wine and the Environment
- “Wine Personality of the Year” by Munskankarna, the world’s biggest wine tasting and wine appreciation association
- On the Wine Media Power List by Wine Business International Magazine (Britt, 2012)
Read more on why to choose BKWine for a wine and food tour.
Read more on what previous travellers have said about our tours.
Our groups are always small. The group size may vary, sometimes maximum 8, sometimes 20, but always of a modest size (we do not do “minimum 20, maximum 45”). Check the details in each program. This is important since it guarantees a quality experience and a personal welcome at the wineries we visit.
BKWine is a Swedish registered travel organiser. BKWine has a bonded travel guarantee deposit so that you can feel safe when booking with us. We fully comply with European and Swedish travel guarantee regulations. British travellers may be familiar with the ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) protection scheme which is a similar model. BKWine follows the code of conduct and financial safeguards defined by the Swedish Consumer Agency and The Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency (“Kammarkollegiet”, with a history dating back to 1539). Read more about this in our Booking Terms and Conditions.
Read the BKWine Booking Terms and Conditions here. They are important to you!
You organise your travel independently to the destination for most of our tours but on location we take care of everything.
For more inspiration
Read our wine travel blog. And also:
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- There are thousands of pictures from previous trips on BKWine Photography
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We also do custom wine and food tours if you want to choose different dates or if you want something different than what we currently offer on our scheduled tours – for individuals, companies, professionals, wine tastings clubs etc.