Getting to know the Douro is not only a visit to the region, it is a trip to discover a unique place with a history, culture and unique people.
There are several explanations for the origin of the name “Douro”. A legend tells us that it was customary to see small, shiny stones rolled down, which were discovered to be of gold. There are those who say that the name is due to the muddy color of the river water, as a consequence of the large amounts of debris that the drags dragged down the slopes and that, because they were bright yellow, gave it a gold color.But there are still those who argue that this name derives from the Latin «Durius», that is, «Hard», due to the hardness of its tortuous contours of high and rocky escarpments.
The Douro River (in Spanish: Duero) is a river that rises in Spain in the province of Soria, on the peaks of the Sierra de Urbião, at 2080 meters of altitude and crosses the north of Portugal. The river mouth of the Douro is next to the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. It is 897 km long and is the third most extensive river in the Iberian Peninsula.
It was this river, once very narrow and dangerous, that brought prosperity to the region, since it was through it that the precious nectar was transported, the Port Wine. In centuries past this river represented a challenge and a danger for those who sailed there. It was filled with strong currents and submerged rocks. At that time, only a small wooden boat – the Rabelo – was able to sail in these waters and transport the wine from the Douro Valley to the mouth, on whose banks are the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia.
The Wine Region of Alto Douro or Alto Douro Vinhateiro, the oldest demarcated wine region in the world covers an area of about 250 thousand hectares, although only about 45 thousand are planted with vines and is also a landscape of rare beauty and An indisputable historical importance. As such, it was considered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site on 14 December 2001.
This region, which is bathed by the Douro River and is part of the so-called Douro Vinhateiro, has been producing wine for more than 2,000 years, among which is the world-famous Port wine and whose landscape, besides being a work of art of nature, It is also the result of the hard work of man.
In 1756, the General Company of Agriculture of the Vineyards of Alto Douro was created by the Marquis of Pombal, and the one that would become the first demarcated wine region in the world, the Douro.
Port wine is a fortified wine, produced exclusively with grapes from the Douro Demarcated Region, where the fermentation process is stopped before being complete, by the addition of wine spirit (with about 77º of alcohol), which It gives it a natural sweetness, since the sugar from the grapes has not been totally transformed into alcohol. What distinguishes the three categories of Port Wine is not the provenance of the grapes, although their quality is also a relevant factor, but the way the wine is aged.