So many Douro Valley Wine Tours from www.winesandtours.co.uk !
by Victor Marques.
About eight years ago I invited two wine merchant friends from the UK, Bill Warry and Nicholas Collis, to join me on a Douro Valley wine tour I had organised for some Swiss customers of mine.
They were so enraptured with the tour that they decided to set up a business around it– initially offering just one annual tour to the Douro Valley.
Now they offer over 20 wine tour options in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece and Cyprus. It has not been easy for them to build up from a simple idea and an enthusiasm for my region.
I laughed the year that Bill brought along one lone customer. But Bill is half Greek and has a certain Spartan tenacity. “You should have cancelled,” I said. “No,” he replied, “If even one person accepts our offer, we run the tour.”
It is really gratifying to learn of their new concept of sequential scheduled wine-tours, resulting in about 10 different Douro Valley Wine-Tour options this September. What actually is this concept? Their web-site explains in detail:
Bill explains: “It means that certain tours follow on sequentially, particularly during September 2016, when guests can combine two or three tours, one after the other. In other words anyone can choose the length of their wine-tour holiday from a short weekend break to several weeks – even spanning two or three countries.”
“It’s like a train journey with stops at several stations; one simply chooses the stations at which you join the journey and at which you alight,” continues Bill.
For example, guests can join the River Cruise along the Douro practically as far as the Spanish border. The tour links the Weekend Tour in Tua to the Rioja Tour based in Logroño. There is an overnight stop and there are several stops for visiting the “Quintas” or Wine Estates along the way and tasting their delicious wines. Wines and Tours provide complimentary transfers between tours – enabling individuals or groups to sit back and enjoy their holiday.
Travelling through two countries in this way, guests can enjoy two types of incredible scenery; the tranquil peace of the Douro River and the raw beauty of the Rioja plains.
Both Portugal’s Douro region and Spain’s Rioja have fascinating historical connections with England and France. For example, during the 17th Century a substantial trade in Port developed between Portugal and England. This was as a result of the hostilities with France which halted the flow of wine from France to England. Louis XIV restricted English imports and Charles II increased duty on French wines, subsequently banning it altogether. English wine merchants settled themselves in Portugal to fill the gap.
With Rioja, the Phylloxera plague was the catalyst that brought the best of Bordeaux winemakers to Rioja in the 19thcentury. France was the country that was hit first and hardest by this disease which struck the vineyards of Europe. Numerous French winemakers and négociants moved to settle in Rioja, taking their wine-making skills with them and continuing to make wine for export to France and the UK.
As I say, it is gratifying to see so much interest being generated in our wine region (and also that of our neighbours). For my part it was my pleasure to welcome last year their Douro Weekend group to a grand barbecue in my vineyards. It was gratifying to hear from Bill and Nicholas how everyone kept talking about it weeks afterwards. I look forward to receiving an even bigger group from them this year.