If you are searching for amazing food and wine tours, then the Douro Valley is the perfect place to do it. Moreover, if you're going to do it, then you might as well do it as a Local! Portuguese gastronomy is just one of the most renowned cuisines in the world and the Portuguese wine, well, is talked about and famed in every corner of the world.
From wine-producing estates to riverfront restaurants, we round up the most outstanding food and wine tours in the dreamy Douro Valley.
Mixing the Traditional Douro's Gastronomy with Contemporary Techniques
When it comes to wine, the Douro Valley doesn't need much of an introduction. After all, it is the oldest demarcated wine region in the world, particularly famous for its unique Port wine, as well as a number of other world-awarded wines. In the past and nowadays in the rural areas across the Douro Valley, families raised their own cattle and grew their own food. It is still common, to make their own bread, olive oil, and grow fresh vegetables, all of this creates fantastic food and wine served in the best restaurants of Douro.
In addition, Portuguese Gastronomy, which in the past was a mystery to most food lovers, is now famed to be one of the best to eat in Europe and probably in the world. This is due to the fact that in the last few years Portuguese cuisine has reinvented itself, maintaining the past traditions and mixing them with contemporary techniques of cuisine, also in the last few years, several restaurants in the country have been awarded Michelin stars, and some have been in the list of some of the best restaurants to eat in the world.
As a title of curiosity and if you are curious about what is the “national dish” in Portugal? Well, codfish, is cooked in 1001 different ways. Each time this product is reinvented by prestigious Michelin Star-awarded Chefs who transform this simple product into marvelous and unique dishes. Amazing no?
The Upstream Journey - A Fantastic First Stop
The valley cherry-picks the finest regional products and combines them into perfectly, hearty dishes, strongly rooted in peasant cookery. Heavy on meat and freshwater fish - as well as egg-filled desserts - Douro's regional cuisine, deserves a place in the gastronomic world.
Located near Port wine town and the center of Peso da Régua, is the young and stylish food hangout Castas e Pratos. Set in a refurbished railway shed with exposed original timbers, it is split into a wine bar on the first floor and, above it, a dining room. Praised by The New York Times for its beautifully composed small dishes, it does contemporary riffs on Portuguese cooking.
Across the river from Régua, is Quinta da Pacheca, which was one of the first properties to bottle wine under its own label. The restaurant is spacious and elegant, with floor-to-ceiling glass windows with views of the Douro River and the surrounding vineyards. This amazing restaurant serves regional cuisine, all naturally paired with Quinta da Pacheca wines.
Slightly further upstream, is DOC. Built over the river at Folgosa, this creative and sophisticated spot lives up to the expectations surrounding the awarded Michelin Chef Rui Paula. It has a colorful menu rooted in both tradition and modernity, smartly paired with a comprehensive wine list.
Dare the Wiggly Roads - Second Stop
Through the wiggly roads, the scenery shifts up a little, since this journey upriver is one of the most scenic routes in the world, and it is why it is reason enough to brave the winding and steep roads.
One of the mandatory main stops is the beautiful Quinta do Crasto. This family-run property has a privileged position high on a cliff above the river, with vineyards in every direction and an infinity pool, designed by Pritzker-winner Eduardo Souto de Moura. Its stone terrace outside invites the guests when the weather is warm, after all, you will enjoy your meal with views up and down the valley. The restaurant is all about traditional comfort food, with delicious regional dishes, accompanied by in-house wines.
Following the Douro river east, there’s Quinta Nova Luxury Winery House, with great views of the river and the estate's vineyard. Billed as the first wine hotel in Portugal - born from the rehabilitation of a 19th century-old manor - visitors can take part in a number of wine-themed activities, which combined have earned it the Luxury Hotel & Winery of the Year Award for 2018 by the English-born Luxury Travel Guide. At the Terraçus Winery Restaurant, there's no menu and you will get served whatever the kitchen has cooked, in perfect tune with the property's wines.
The Last but Not the Least - Last Stop
The stunning town of Pinhão is the most-visited part of the region, sitting by the river with its blue-tiled train station and iron-tied-arch bridge. It is a center of wine production and some of Douro's most well-known wine-producing estates are located here.
At river level, there's Quinta de La Rosa, its restaurant A Cozinha da Clara - Claire's Kitchen - which stands as a tribute to the owner's grandmother. Claire's love of food and hospitality it's everywhere in the restaurant, which does creative contemporary riffs on Portuguese cooking. Back at the beginning of the 19th century, the family was one of the first to realize that quality table wines were possible, at a time when the region was solely known for its fortified wines. Fantastic, isn't it?
From this point onwards, the road changes its direction, away from the river and into the hills. Located a 20-minute drive from Pinhão, Quinta do Portal stands beautifully isolated in the middle of its own vineyards. It belongs to a century-old winemaking family, that has been here for hundreds of years. The estate also houses an excellent restaurant, led by young and talented Chef Milton Ferreira, who uses locally-grown ingredients splendidly paired with in-house wines in a magnificent way.
Travel allows you to experience new flavors and cuisines. Best yet, if you wish to pair some of these experiences - whether during a trip to the valley or for some well-deserved self-indulgence - we can easily do it for you.