Travelling from the Winelands of Portugal's Douro
Valley to the Winelands of Spain's Rioja
By Bill Warry, Wines and Tours Ltd.
The next time you’re enjoying a glass of port, thank politics. Without treaties, trade and conflict, you’d likely just be drinking red wine.
For centuries, much of the wine consumed in Britain has been French. It’s only natural that we’d look to our close neighbour, but neighbours sometimes fall out. And for England and France, that happened frequently, which disrupted the supply of wine from across the Channel. A back up plan was needed.
In the 14th century, England struck a deal with Portugal: the Treaty of Windsor gave merchants of each country the right to reside and trade in the other. Another treaty, in 1654, granted merchants from England and Scotland preferential customs duties, which became particularly useful - when, a little over a decade later, with the French and English courts engaged in a series of tit-for-tat import/export restrictions, English merchants based in the Portuguese port of Viana Do Castelo saw the opportunity to expand their wine businesses. But the wine made in the coastal areas around Viana Do Castelo was too thin for consumers in Britain; they preferred the full-bodied wine produced further inland, in the Douro Valley.
This Wine tour includes many interesting and spectacular wine regions – we take in the Douro Valley, Vinho Verde and Rioja.
Porto in North Portugal, apart from being one of the oldest European centres and registered as a World Heritage site by UNESCO is located on the north bank of the River Douro on the Atlantic coast. The Douro River (emanating from the Duero in Spain) flows down along the beautiful Douro Valley and eventually into the Atlantic Ocean at the river mouth between Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia.