The Douro is the oldest demarcated wine region in the world. It was created in 1756, in the reign of Joseph I, by his prime minister, Marquis of Pombal. This means it was the first wine region in the world to have its own regulation to protect its designation of origin.
It was classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001, in the category of Cultural Landscape. The human work done on this landscape was immense. To grow vine, olive, almond, cereals, were built terraces which, century after century, were progressively occupied by the main culture of the region: vineyard. Grapes have been cultivated since Roman times, and later by the monks of the Cistercian Order, but the great expansion of vine started throughout the 18th century.
In the Douro region, two types of wine are produced: Port, a fortified wine, and Douro, a dry wine. The name Porto is due to the exportation and aging of this wine at Porto city. Its fame reaches the four corners of the world, a wine that makes part of the city history and the development of Northern Portugal. Douro wine, named after the region where the vineyards are located, stands out more and more as a first class world wine.
But what makes this region’s wines so special? Naturally, the so-called terroir: a set of unique features with a single common thread, the Douro River.
- Climate: due to its location, the region is protected by the Marão and Montemuro mountains against the damp winds of the Atlantic, forming a Mediterranean microclimate. It is divided into three sub-regions: Baixo Corgo, Cima Corgo, and Douro Superior. The first sub-region has a Mediterranean/Atlantic climate with an annual precipitation average of 1000mm, the second a Mediterranean climate with an average of 600mm, and the third a Mediterranean/continental climate with an average of 400mm.
- Soil: the Douro valley is predominantly composed of schist, with granite in the higher areas. Since schist is a laminated rock, the roots grow between fissures, allowing them to have access to water and mineral reserves, so fundamental in a predominantly dry climate.
- Exposure and altitude: different altitudes, between 100-650 m, and different exposures allow us to create limitless blends and combinations.
- Grape varieties: the number of native varieties is immense, around 100.
- Culture: in addition to all the aspects mentioned above, there is a wisdom acquired over centuries that is constantly evolving.