I have visited Napa and Sonoma, and have been to Tuscany, and Bordeaux, but no wine region of the world has surprised me with its beauty as much as the Douro. If your find yourself in Porto, it is well worth renting a car (or better yet, hiring a driver) to explore the region. I did a day trip and my favorite stop was Quinta Nova de Nossa Senhora do Carmo, a 300-acre estate with a working vineyard, chapel, and an 18th-century manor house that has been turned into an 11-room hotel. If you stay the night you can follow walking routes that begin at the hotel and explore abandoned pre-phylloxera terraces, and the vegetable garden. There is an on-site pool and of course a cellar and tasting room. But the highlight of the trip was an alfresco lunch from chef Tavares Pinto. Our three-course meal was paired with Quinta Nova wines and was the most memorable of my year. The food was simple and rustic but perfectly executed. We started with a perfectly tender octopus with marinated, shaved fennel and moved on to a juicy pork chop with mango chutney and ended with a chocolate shortbread ice cream sandwich. I often dream of flying back to Portugal just to relive that meal.
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The Beauty of Douro Valley
The Douro Valley is one of many of Portugal's natural treasures. The region starts in the north of Portugal, from the city of Porto toward the eastern border with Spain. The valley is well known for its great wineries and the Port wine manufactured.
There are lots of different activities related to Douro Valley; from boating along the river, doing some wine related tours in wineries and wine cellars, gastronomy, history or hiking. The weather is mostly pleasant throughout most of the year.
There are so many spots along the Douro Valley that seem to be the Picture-Perfect' and Nature plays a main role in shapes, textures and colors