I’ve posted a few things about our recent time in Porto, and now I want to share some images from the last leg of our trip – the beautiful Douro Valley, which is just a short motorway hop from the city. The Douro is the oldest wine-producing region in the world, and it’s also one of the most beautiful – a string of steeply terraced vineyards plunging down towards a winding river, with sleepy villages and ornate country estates dotting the hillsides.
Our base was Quinta do Vallado – and, like our Porto hotels, it was another wonderful mix of past and present. This family-run vineyard has been churning out delicious whites, reds and ports for generations, and it centres around an ochre-coloured manor house that dates from the 1400s. But the original buildings have been joined by a smart new hotel wing in slate and schist, plus an equally striking winery packed with the latest technology (free tours and tastings explain how it all works to guests).
Our days soon fell into a lazy, wine-fuelled pattern. In the mornings, we meandered along the mighty Douro, stopping here and there to breathe in the blossom-scented air and sample the wares at other quintas. We also twisted up into the hills to lookout points with sweeping views, and tiny churches perched among a sea of vines.
In the afternoons, we lounged on Quinta do Vallado’s terrace over platters of cheese and bottles of the estate’s finest, before wandering through the garden to the pool, tucked away beneath fruit-laden orange trees.
Our evenings were spent watching the sunset from our balcony, gorging ourselves silly on regional delights in the restaurant (the signature dessert – finely sliced home-grown oranges drizzled with port and sprinkled with chocolate – will stay in my memory for a long time), and lingering over post-dinner tipples in the library’s huge leather armchairs.
All in all, not a bad way to end our trip!
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All photography by Abi Dare