Recognized as Mundial Heritage of Humanity, the High Douro Vineyard is one of the most beautiful regions of Portugal. Its cultural landscape distinguishes itself by the contrast between the crystallinity of the Douro river valley and the steep slopes terraced by man (because of his agricultural Mediterranean type needs) where is possible the cultivation of vines that allow the production of the famous Porto’s Wine. Only through an 4×4 vehicle is possible to go through the terraces and vineyards, admire the most beautiful landscapes and experience the High Douro Vineyard in the most authentic way.
The Trás-os-Montes region’s landscape was sculpted mostly by fluvial erosion in metamorphic rocks (schist and quartzite), magmatic rocks (granite) and sedimentary rocks (sands, sandstones and conglomerates). The formation of the different types of rocks there existing was due to tectonic activity that imposed the rocks sedimentation (cays and silts), that eventually originate the Shale Complex, actually designated by Douro-Beiras Super Group, between approximately 610 to 510 million years. To concern to flora, the native vegetation of the High Douro Vineyard region is natural od Mediterranean area, highlighting the cork oak, the holm oak, the olive tree and the chestnut. Along its landscape born various edible wild plants like, for example, the cress, the azedas (also known as vinagreiras), the purslane, the wild asparagus, the fennel and the nettles, all them used in the confection of sups and/or salads. It is possible to found too another wild plants that offer us their tasty fruits; they are the wild blackthorn, the raspberry tree, the strawberry tree, the almond tree, the blueberry tree, the sabugueiro, the wild cherry tree.
With this fruits it’s possible to make many sweets and pies and also house made jams. The juniper, the tomillos, the rosemary and the oregano, the mint, the tarragon and the wild garlic are some of the aromatic plants that make more delicious the Trás-os-Montes region’s plates. In relation to fauna, it is possible to find different species of native cattle: the churra galega mirandesa (sheep cattle), the mountain goat (goat cattle), the Miranda’s donkey (donkey cattle) and the mirandesa cow (cow cattle).
Peso da Régua is one of the most important cities of the Vila Real’s district, being considered the capital of the High Douro Vineyard – demarcated region where is produced the famous Porto’s Wine. This tittle appears in 1756, when the Pombal’s Marquis, at the time secretary of state of the kingdom during the kingdom of the José I, was created the General Company of the Douro Vineyards, ordering to limit with granite frames the areas of production of the best wines, being born the first demarcated region in the whole world. Because of its central location, the city of Peso da Régua started to be considered the capital of that region, the place where arrived and departed the rabelo boats that carried the Porto’s Wine produced in the Douro region till the caves in Vila Nova de Gaia, where the wine was stored. The county of Peso da Régua is of extreme beauty and has a vast heritage, highlighting the manor houses and the big farms where the Porto’s Wine is produced.
The Wine of Porto, known for its liqueur texture, is produced in the Demarcated Region of Douro under particular conditions derived from natural and human factors. Its renounced production process, but based in the tradition, includes the stop of fermentation by the addiction of brandy and the aging of the wines in the wine pipes. The Porto’s Wine distinguish of the other common wines because of its singular characteristics, including a vast diversity of types spotlighting a wealth and an intensity of incomparable tastes and smells and a high alcohol content (understood between 19% and 22% vol.). The color of the different types of Red Porto’s Wine varies between the retinto and the light golden. The White Wines can be of three different colors, respectively, pale white, straw white and golden white. When aged in hull for a long time, the white wines acquire, because of natural oxidation, a light golden shade, resembling the older red wines. To concern to its sweetness, that consists in a production option (conditioned by the moment of interruption of fermentation), these wines could be very sweets, sweets, half dry or extra dry. The wines of Porto are classified in two categories according with the type of aging which they are subject: The Ruby style that consist in wines that are intended to sustain the evolution of its red color., more or less intense, with the objective of maintaining its fruity smell; and the Tawny style wich smells remember the dry fruits and the wood of the wine pipes, being that these characteristics are accentuated how much older the wine is.
The Bagaúste’s dam, inaugurated in 1973, is found between the municipalities of Peso da Régua and Lemego. It has 41 meters of height above the foundation and 350 meters of crown length. Its hydroelectric central is constituted by three Kaplan groups, making a total installed power of 156 MW, and produces on average 738 GWh per year. This dam contains a lock of the Douro navigation channel, with a length of approximately 90 meters and a width of 12,2 meters, that overcoming a slope of 28,5 meters, allows passage of cruises that navigate between the city of Peso da Régua and the village of Pinhão.
To 640 meters of height, you can found the hermitage of Saint Leonard of Galafura. In that place exist a geodetic frame, that indicates the high height of that place, and one of the most beautiful gazebos of the Trás-os-Montes region, with a gorgeous view over the Douro river. It was a place frequented by the poet and writer Miguel Torga. Born in S. Martinho da Anta, a village of the municipality of Sabrosa, he often visited the Saint Leonard gazebo, finding in the beautiful landscape the best inspiration for his tales and poems, having even dedicated a poem to that place. In that poem Miguel Torga compares que gazebo to a boat and Saint Leonard to the navigator that drives the boat towards the Douro (that is compared to the immense sea). Next to the hermitage exists a little picnic park in the shade of the grove, where is possible to taste a picnic with some of the best Portuguese snacks, with a privileged view to the beautiful Trás-os-Montes’s landscape. You can also find Miss Mirra, the enchanted Moorish princess that wages through the lands during the day and hides in a magical grotto at night in the rocky slope.
The beautiful village of Pinhão, belonging to the municipality of Alijó, is located in the right bank of the Douro river and is one of the places with more farms producer of Porto’s wine. Located in the heart of the High Douro Vineyards region, got its name because of the fact of being located near to the Pinhão river’s mouth (one of the various tributaries of the Douro river. Its beauty landscape is incomparable and between all its heritage highlighting the train station dated of the 19th century, famous for the tile panels with which is coated. This tile panels portray the different phases of the Wine of Porto’s production, since the grape harvest, passing by the stepping of that grapes till the transportation of the wine in the rabelo boats. The railroad allowed the constant development of the village of Pinhão, once it became possible the transport of people and materials in a region where the Douro river was the unique access and communication road.
In the village of Pinhão you can visit the Quinta da Roêda, Croft’s property where ir possible to find some of the older vineyards of the High Douro Vineyard region, where is possible to experience the vineyards in the best way. Croft was founded in 1588 and is, without doubts, one of the most famous houses producers of Porto’s Wine, being, in fact, the older company in activity in this area. It is famous for its Porto’s wines, spotlighting its Vintage and Reserve ranges. Despite its rich heritage and history, Croft continues to be a pioneer, betting constantly in the creation of innovating styles, like the Croft Pink – the first Pink Wine of Porto. For who visits the Quinta da Roêda, the meeting point is in the old stables, that were been lovingly restored and decorated according with the traditional style of the Douro’s region. Take advantage also to discover the secrets of the vineyard through a guided tour by the farm, always watching the most beautiful views over the Douro river. The terrace, spacious and cozy place with the gorgeous landscape as background, is the ideal place to taste the famous Croft’s Wines of Porto.
Being the region of the High Douro Vineyards one of the greater landscape riches of the Portuguese territory, anyone who visits it surrendered to its charm and beauty of its landscapes, to the hospitality of its local residents and to the tasty palate of its gastronomy. The Douro river drawn in the hills, the hillsides painted forming terraces and the green shades of the vegetation transmit a peace that it is impossible to find anywhere else. Just there is possible to hear the silence of calm, feel the freedom of the soul and the beat of the heart.