The Douro Valley , Portugal, is considered to be one of the most spectacular wine regions in the world with its characteristic terraced vineyards on sloping hills that meet the meandering river below and the peaceful Pinhao, (pronounced Pin-yeow), in the very heart of the Douro Valley. Many of our Private Wine Tours in Portugal include this iconic wine region, the perfect place to spend 2 or 3 days and submerge your senses in the Portuguese countryside. You will definitely switch off from the city life here as this wine area enchants you, enveloping you in its refreshing breath.
Take full advantage of this relaxing haven by taking a stroll beside the Douro River, a drive around this incredibly beautiful area, or ride the train meandering alongside the water. Pinhao station is considered one of the most symbolic locations on the Upper Douro wine circuit. The picture postcard train station has 25 blue glazed tile panels covering the main building, representing the local landscapes and habits, predominantly of wine making. The Pinhao to Pocinho route is considered one of the world’s most scenic journeys ; the rail line runs just along the river with of course the resultant breathtaking views of the terraced vineyards on the other side.
Our charismatic licensed local chauffeurs Miguel and Francesca, with time have become true experts in the Douro Valley wine and wineries. Nowadays, accompanied by them, you will not only visit the best wineries, but learn a lot about the fascinating world of Port and other Portuguese wines. Or maybe, you might prefer the freedom of self-driving, in which case we will gladly provide a luxury rental car. Either way, explore our favorite hidden corners of the Douro Valley wine region and even travel to Vila Nova de Foz Coa with some spectacular views as the roads wind erratically up and down the mountainside between the different valleys. The town is beautifully situated high above the River Coa, one of the tributaries of the Douro. This is very much an area of olives and almonds, in particular, make a beautiful sight in early spring. Vila Nova is also the closest town to the 22,000-year-old rock paintings, which were discovered during the construction of a new dam.
Another leisurely excursion to make is to Sabrosa, a short drive to the north of Pinhao, the birthplace of Fernao de Magalhaes (Ferdinand Magellan), who was born there in 1480. One ship of his fleet of five (commanded by the Basque Juan Sebastian de Elcano) was the first to circumnavigate the globe between 1519 and 1522. Magellan himself was killed en route in the Philippines.
This intoxicating atmosphere can also be fully explored with various experiences that await you on your Customized Private Tour of Portugal, whilst in Pinhao. A private port wine tasting with an expert at your hotel provides an excellent opportunity to start to get to know the best ports of Portugal. Port wine is a wine developed in Portugal by the British. To make the wine, it ferments for only 2 to 3 days, has brandy added, and then is aged in wooden barrels. How long it ages determines the taste and how sweet the wine is.
There are generally five different types of port wine – white, ruby, tawny, late bottle vintage (LBV), and vintage. White is aged early and is young and robust. Ruby is aged for 3 years with a strong grape and pepper taste. Tawny varies from 10 to 40 years and is aged in smaller wooden barrels and with a light, mellow taste. Late Bottle Vintage is aged 4 to 6 years while vintage is from a single harvest and is aged for 2 years in wood and then 10 to 30 years in the bottle. All port wines are medium sweet but they do range from a drier, less sweet to very sweet. Enjoy trying to distinguish between the 5 different types of port wine!
A privately skippered Rabelo cruise on the Douro River is also a favorite of our clients, as it offers a great chance to see the beauty of the area and the many wineries running down towards the river. These cruises are on replica Vintage boats traditionally used to carry the wine down the river from Douro to the lodges in Oporto. A less luxurious option but still a chance to cruise the river would be to join one of the small group excursions on regular boats, which we can also arrange. Whichever way, they are both a great opportunity for you to see the beauty of the area and the many wineries running down towards the river.
The wines from this region are prized for their solid backbone and concentration and this can be seen at some of our favourite wineries. Enjoy a private visit (or two), with wine-tasting, to a prestigious winery in the Douro Demarcated Region, here are a few personal favorites:
– A famous flagship Quinta that is beautifully maintained and picturesquely located just up the river, with gorgeous views of Pinhao. Tour the cellars to see the production processes that have been used over the centuries and how they have evolved.
– A Quinta that is famed not only for its sophisticated wines but also for its dramatic, mind blowing views. References date as far back as the early seventeenth century, long before the Douro became the world’s first demarcated wine region in 1756.
– A world famous port producing Quinta whose reputation goes back to the 18th century. The property at the moment totals just over 76 hectares. All of the grapes are foot trodden in granite lagares situated on the property.
Whatever you decide to see and do, Pinhao is perfectly placed to discover the spectacular Douro Valley , enjoy Portuguese Wines and tantalize your taste buds. Sample the Portuguese cuisine by dining at some of our favorite local haunts or even treat yourself to a luxury Michelin starred meal while you’re in the area, at the incredible Rui Paula restaurant, overlooking the river. Accommodation-wise, we can book you into a charming 5-star hotel overlooking the river or if you prefer, a fantastic hilltop winery hotel with spectacular views or a unique quaint historical lodge in the wine country.
Come and discover Pinhao and the Douro Valley on our Luxury Private Tour of Portugal: Wine and Culture
If you are short on vacation time but in need of some exhilarating scenery and fresh air then the Romantic Escape to The Douro Valley Private tour is perfect for you.