Hillside Vines and Fabulous WinesDriving along the countryside in northern Portugal near Oporto I saw the spectacular hillside vines of the famous Douro Valley spread out in front of me for miles. The sight was breathtaking. I saw the steep hillsides with the vines on the terraces. The vines were loaded with grapes that in a couple of weeks would be ready for harvest. The vineyards were first established in the 12th century by Cistercian monks. There are numerous Cistercian monasteries in the area. UNESCO declared the Douro Valley a World Heritage Site in 2001. The Douro Valley produces the grapes for port, red, and white wines. Douro tours are available and run from a few hours to a few days. The cruises run from April to October. If you want to see the harvest picking of the grapes plan your tour for September. A drive through the Douro Valley or a cruise down the Douro River is an experience to savor. If you get to northern Portugal, look into a side trip to the Douro. You won't be disappointed.