|Bark stripped cork trees|
Once at Regua we boarded a bus for a short drive to the Museu do Douro for a Signature Lecture called "The Magic Duoro Valley." This was an education to say the least. In 2001 the Alto Douro Vinhateiro, this area that produces the unique Port Wine, was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco. "It is the perfect combination of nature and human effort, that accounts for the beauty of this landscape of terraces and vineyards." Nothing like it in the world. The huge demarcated area produces mainly Port wines but also red and white table wines. It was probably Roman Soldiers who first planted grapes in the Duoro Valley but British Merchants are credited for the discovery of Port. At war with France they could not import French wines in the 17th century so turned to Portugal. The British added brandy to preserve the grape juice for shipment to Britain and to remove some of the wine's bite. Famous names such as Taylor's, Graham's,Cockburn's and Sandeman's date from this era. We learned about all aspects of production in this valley and about the types of Port. It was no easy task but over centuries the vineyards have persevered, perhaps evolved but the hardiness of it all is evident. The soil here is rocky, the river was wild and the history is fascinating. It reminded me of the ruggedness of logging in Canada!
|Regua, our boat far in the background|
|A lecture but not boring!|
|hands on museum|
|Port Boat used to transport barrels down the wild river|
|Queen Isabella repositioned|
While we were at the museum the boat refueled and repositioned ready to receive us for lunch. Then we boarded the bus again for a tour of the famous Mateus Palace followed by a visit to the Wine Estate Quinta Da Avessada including dinner. Does this sound like a busy day or what?
I had a fuzzy memory of Mateus Wine from my youth but let me tell you it is something that will stay with me clearly now. What a gorgeous palace, the one that is famously depicted on a bottle of Mateus rose wine. It is still owned by descendants of the last count of Vila Real and is a fine example of baroque architecture and a glimpse into the life of Portuguese aristocracy. No photos inside. The gardens are incredible!