It was our last day in Porto, Portugal, we had been together for two weeks solid, and were surprisingly only minorly starting to grate on each other’s nerves. We had one day in Europe left, and it seemed fitting that we should book an eight hour wine tour of the famous Duoro Valley, starting of course at 8am. In classic - push through travel style - we pulled ourselves out of bed, put on our last “clean” outfits, and hiked up the hilly roads in Porto to meet our tour bus. We crowded into a nine person Euro style van with our driver, three Australians, and a British couple, and we were off! Exhaustion and car sickness soon gave way to ecstasy as we left the northern city of Porto and started to make our way into the Duoro Valley.
The Duoro is considered one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world, and it is utterly stunning. Napa is cool... but the Duoro has a magic unlike any we have felt. Steep rocky mountains gave way to rolling lush hills that met in the meandering Duoro river. In between winery visits, the tour stopped for a seafood lunch at the banks of the Duoro river. We ate, and watched boats float slowly by, on their way to Porto. For thousands of years, boats have been transporting wine down this river. It was a moment that makes you stop and think about who else has sat here, watching the boats go by, while enjoying a glass of wine. From the Roman’s of the 2nd Century BC, to the Moors, to the Spanish Conquistadors...the history of the valley is truly staggering.
We would learn that day that the Portuguese winemaking culture is ancient. That the Portuguese people are generous, hilarious, and deeply committed to their land. That the wine could run thick and syrupy like their port - to salty and airy like their seafood whites. We learned about the wine cooperatives that helped sustain much of the Duoro and allowed small scale farmers to keep making their wine against larger competition. We tried fortified Moscatel, which tasted like nectar ambrosia of the gods. The day was hot, the wine was excellent, and the people were the best of humanity. We returned to Porto full and drunk on wine and on life, with that dreamy golden feeling that only a day well-lived gives you.
We cannot wait to travel again soon, to return to days like this one. To learn more about our world and to connect with people all over. We hope you will join us.