"The Douro Valley" Personal Page by davidmonteiro

Douro Valley Demarcated Wine Region

During the XVII century the British were importing huge quantities of Portuguese wine that were transported until the UK by sea.

Unfortunately, due to the severe conditions of shipping at that time, the wine often soured. So they started to add alcohol to keep the wine in good conditions until arriving to its destination.

By that time the sailors realize that besides increasing the alcoholic grade, which was already very appreciated by them, the alcohol enhanced the wine flavor and aroma and that was allegedly the beginning of the Porto Wine.

Well ? if we believe in this story so the Bristish was right in claiming they was the ?inventors? of the Porto Wine.

However ? yes, there is always an ?however? in every story ehehehe ?
however, we know that this method of add alcohol to the wine during the shipping is much older than that. The Portuguese navigators of the XV century were already using it. So, what can we say?

The first record we have about a ?Vinho do Porto?, or Porto Wine, being shipped from Portugal is dated from 1678.

The wine was growing and being produced in the Douro Valley and transported to Vila Nova de Gaia in wooden boats called ?Rabelo?. Vila Nova de Gaia is the city in front of Porto, on the other river bank. Finally the wine was shipped from Porto area and that is why was known by the name of Porto Wine.

As you can imagine the amount of business originated by the wine selling to the UK was quite important for Portugal. The Portuguese are/were not different from the rest of the humans worldwide and they started to decrease the quality of the wine and increasing the profit ? not very clever nor original at all ? and that happened until a point that the business was at stake.

By mid-eighteenth century the Portuguese king D. José I was ruling the country and his Prime Minister was a man called Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, known as Marquis de Pombal.

Marquis de Pombal was a very tough man, after the Lisbon 1755 earthquake he punished quite severely who was caught stilling from the city wreckage and he had his reputation from many other similar situations. With the objective of protecting the Porto Wine business, which was very important for the country, in between many other measures he established the Demarcated Wine Region of the Douro in 1756.

That is how was born the oldest demarcated wine region in the world and until today it stays more or less with the same configuration, with some modifications of corse.

In 2001 UNESCO recognized the Douro Valley as a World Heritage Site:
?Criterion iii The Alto Douro Region has been producing wine for nearly two thousand years and its landscape has been moulded by human activities. Criterion iv The components of the Alto Douro landscape are representative of the full range of activities association with winemaking ? terraces, quintas (wine-producing farm complexes), villages, chapels, and roads. Criterion v The cultural landscape of the Alto Douro is an outstanding example of a traditional European wine-producing region, reflecting the evolution of this human activity over time.?

Douro Valley photos at Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/67637861@N04/

If you want to tour and know the Douro Valley contact me: david.jose.monteiro@gmail.com

Drink a glass of Porto Wine with your friends and have fun.
David Monteiro

Some important links if you want to know more about this subject:
Região Vinhateira do Alto Douro (Wine Region of High Douro) - http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regi%C3%A3o_Vinhateira_do_Alto_Douro#Divis.C3.A3o_Geogr.C3.A1fica

Alto Douro Wine Region, UNESCO World Heritage Site ?http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1046
Douro DOC ? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douro_DOC

  • Page Written Nov 7, 2011
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David Monteiro
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