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Wine Harvest in the Douro Valley

Blue sky. Perfect temperature. The occasional tweets of birds talking to each other, the buzzing of a fly. The near-total silence of the vine-carpeted mountainside interrupted as the truck’s engine spluttered into life. Victor plunged our truck down the rocky dirt track and the tyres spewed clouds of dust in our wake.

Then round a corner – a hive of activity. Men and women, young and old clipping away at the vines and ferrying bucket-loads of grapes to the waiting tractor.

 

Such is the setting in Quinta after Quinta in the Douro Valley. Sadly, our visit did not coincide with the traditional grape-treading but ‘lagars’ lay full in readiness, and sacks of skins of already trodden grapes waited to be turned into brandy for fortifying port.

 

The Douro Valley is a truly great place for wine-lovers to take a holiday break. Peace and tranquillity blended with climbing hilly steps. Wine tastings at the premises of local producers. Portuguese food in convivial company. Life close to nature.

What better way to spend a few days away from the hustle and bustle of city life?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/vmarques Victor Marques

    Great to meet Bill and Ant here in Douro Valley ..one of my poems:

    Douro Valley my true love

    As far as you can see,
    Douro Valley for you and me,
    Terroir covered with colored terraces up the hill,
    Baron Forrester was made of God Will.

    Vines flourish in schist as in paradise,
    English friends here you can find.
    Treasures that nature give to us for free,
    Douro Valley for you and me.

    The trains and boats near the river for trade,
    Port wine is divine and so well made.
    Love for people with great hospitality,
    Douro Valley for you and me.

    The harvest time without an end,
    Douro valley loves you my friend.
    Lost horizon that you can see,
    Douro Valley for you and me.

    Warmest regards.

    Read more: http://hellopoetry.com/poem/douro-valley-for-you-and-me/#ixzz1CnywSfxn

  • http://www.facebook.com/vmarques Victor Marques

    Douro Valley

    The scenery is spectacular. As far as the eye can see, the mountainous terrain is covered with contour-line-like terraces. The scale is impressive, too. There’s just so much of it. I don’t think I’m exaggerating too much when I say that the Douro Valley is one of the wonders of the world.
    Then there’s the soil. The ‘terroir’, if you like that term, is just about perfect for growing quality wine grapes like: touriga nacional, tinta roriz, touriga franca , tinta barroca, muscatel and so many Portuguese grapes varieties l . Its schist, with a bit of granite here and there. It doesn’t look promising for growing anything, but vines flourish in these conditions. The poor soil encourages them to sink their roots deep, where they find a steady but stingy water supply and divert their energies to grape production.

    The climate is continental, very hot and desert-dry in the summer; cold and wet in the winter. One of the fascinating aspects of the region, though, is the small-scale variations between the different vineyard sites. With each twist and turn of the various valleys, and from the top of the slope to the bottom, conditions can be remarkably different. For example, down by the river the grapes will ripen a lot faster than those at the higher vineyards, which may be 400–500 meters higher up.

    The region is split into three quite different areas. Coming from Porto, first you hit the Baixo Corgo, the coolest and wettest of the three. With just over 14 000 ha, this makes up one third of the region. Next is the most important zone, the Cima Corgo. Roughly centered around the town of Pinhão, its 19 000 ha make up 45% of the Douro. Finally, we have the Douro Superior, much further up towards the Spanish border, and occupying 8700 ha (20% of the region). This is the hottest, driest region of the three.
    If the Douro wasn’t already a wine region, no one would think today about putting vineyards here. Far too difficult. It has taken a miracle of agricultural engineering to plant vines here at all. Most of the slopes are so steep that the only way to grow anything is by creating terraces.

    Terracing the old-fashioned way involved the painstaking construction of dry stone walls to support the banks of soil. Dynamite was (and still is) often needed to clear the way. The modern method is more brute force, with wide terraces being carved out of the hillside by bulldozers.

    What of the wines? The recent history of the Douro is dominated by the Port trade. There are still some 85 000 growers here (a staggering number). While table wines have always been made in the region, until very recently almost all the best grapes were destined for Port production. These growers would either sell their grapes, or make the port wine themselves. The traditional method is to dump the grapes in large shallow stone troughs (known as ‘lagares’), into which would hop an assortment of locals who would then tread the grapes repeatedly over the next couple of days.

    At a certain point in fermentation, while there was still quite a lot of grape sugar left, brandy would be added. This stops the fermentation process leaving a sweet, strong wine that would then be put into cask to begin the ageing process. The major port companies then sent out teams of expert tasters, who would determine the quality and decide the destination of the wines: perhaps LBV, tawny, ruby, or in rare cases in very good vintages, vintage port itself.
    Victor Marques

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  • Derek

    wish I was theer