Destinations / August 06, 2017. By Paulo Tavares
A port wine cellar tour is mandatory for wine lovers. But did you know that the port houses and warehouses for storing and shipping port are all located in Vila Nova de Gaia (Gaia) not Porto (after which the wine was named). Gaia is on the opposite riverbank to Porto and the weather conditions and humidity are better on that riverbank. Furthermore, the cost of storing wine was lower in Gaia because they did not pay taxes to Porto’s bishop. Here are our suggestions for the best port wine cellar tours plus places to stay, visit and eat whether you’re travelling alone with the family or friends.
Perched on a hill in Vila Nova de Gaia, The Yeatman is the place to stay for wine lovers. It has the most comprehensive cellar of Portuguese wines in the world. The wine theme extends to the decoration of the spacious rooms and spa with vine products and therapies. A decanter shaped infinity pool adds to the wow factor. You’ll love the breathtaking views of Porto from the balcony of your room. Seat yourself in the Orangerie Restaurant with open air terrace and let your imagination wander. If you can tear yourself away the port wine cellars are just down the road.
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Experience the history of one of the world’s most iconic port wine brands and stay at the riverfront House of Sandeman Hostel and Suites, housed in the same building as the Sandeman cellars. Located on the south bank of the river Douro 200 meters from the Luís 1 bridge. This unique hotel hostel hybrid offers 12 suites and 43 hostel beds. The surrounding area is chock-a- block with restaurants and bars.
All of the cellars offer different types of tours in several languages. In order to welcome visitors several cellars renovated their interior keeping all the original features. In addition to touring ancient cellars of wine casks and tasting port you can also visit museums, entertain children, listen to music and eat well. This is not a comprehensive list of cellars, but rather a list I’ve put together based on what is unique about each one.
Graham’s 1890 building has always provided an aging warehouse for the brand’s Port wines. The cellar was renovated recently to improve the space. The tour begins in the museum and ends with a Port wine tasting.
Ferreira was established by a family of Douro wine-growers in 1751. The warehouse entrance faces the waterfront. There is an exhibition dedicated to Dona Antónia Ferrira (1811-96) who made a major contribution to the development of Port wine in a society ruled by man. There is also a shop where you can taste and buy wines.
Taylor’s have preserved the atmosphere of ancient times. On the tour you can learn the basics of making Port wine as well as the brand’s history. After passing through the cellars in the old warehouse you can taste the wines including the Taylor’s Chip Dry, (extra dry white, Taylor’s late Bottle Vintage and Taylor’s 10 –year Tawny wines paired with almond and chocolate truffles.
Porto Cruz don’t have a warehouse open to the public. There is a multimedia centre about port where visitors can discover all the different types of Port Cruz and the sensory flavours of each through interactive tables. They also have tasting rooms and workshops and a roof terrace with a 360º view of Porto.
Located on the riverfront, Calem is the cellar closest to the Luis 1 bridge. Those who visit after 6.00pm will be entertained with a Fado performance that lasts about 45 minutes.
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I hope this post has inspired you to visit Porto and take a Port tasting tour and if you do please share your thoughts in the comments below.