|The Duoro River upstream from Peso da Regua. The terraces at the upper left are vineyards.|
The grapes that go into port wine come from this river valley, which also produces
excellent unfortified wines.
Up the Douro River from Porto, vineyards eventually replace buildings on the steep hills. Some vineyards display large signs bearing the names of port companies like Sandeman. These quintos, as they're called, sometimes produce and market their own wines. That's the case at Quinta do Vallado in the hills above Peso da Regua, one of several picturesque wine towns along the Douro.
Vallado has used a small part of its property to build a hotel, one part has rooms in an older yellow stucco building and the other part, including reception and restaurant, in a new, angular building with terraces and spa-like bathrooms. We stayed two nights in the latter. We arrived here from Porto in time for lunch, which we had outdoors. The weather was warm enough, in fact, that each of the two afternoons we were here were spent partly at the swimming pool, which is tucked away in a terraced orange orchard. We and other guests ate fruit that we picked from the trees.
For the itinerary of our April 2017 Portugal trip
and links to hotels, click HERE.
Waiting for us in our room was a complimentary half-bottle of red Vallado wine. Most Portuguese reds are blends of three or more grapes. Vallado uses different combinations of touriga nacional, tinta roriz, touriga franca, sousao, tinta amarela and tinta barroca in its blends (click HERE). The wines have complex secondary flavors and are very satisfying. Vallado's rose is 100 percent touriga nacional, a common approach in Portugal and a successful one. A salesroom is a short walk from the hotel. There are about 30 other wineries around Peso da Regua, Vila Real, Lamego and the other nearby wine towns.
Wine is important, but so is food. Our first night here we had dinner at Vallado, which like many wineries has a very credible restaurant. The next night was in town, at Taberna do Jerere (click HERE), a small family place with only six or seven tables where reservations are a must. Trying to go beyond the grilled fish or black pork that I'd been ordering too much, I opted for octopus stew. This wasn't a regular stew with vegetable and potatoes. It was basically octopus pieces in octopus broth to which pieces of bread have been added. The bread becomes mush, so its basically octopus in broth with soupy and decomposing bread. I did finish it but I'd recommend it only to someone I didn't like. After some confusion about her order, Jane had succulent pork ribs. I'd recommend the restaurant, just not the dish I had.
The morning of our one full day here, we drove up the Douro to the small town of Pinhao, where we walked around and poked our heads in shops and the town's cute little train station, complete with a wine tasting room. Back in Peso da Regua, lunch was at Nacional (click HERE), an eatery that's been around since 1931. We may have been the only tourists -- we certainly were the only people who didn't speak Portuguese -- but expect to see tourists if you visit. The owner proudly told us that her place is in Rick Steves's latest book on Portugal.
If it sounds as if all we did here is eat and drink, that's about right. Here are some photos:
|A tile mural at the quaint railroad station at Pinhao, a small town on the Douro.|
|Another mural at the station.|
|The train station at Pinhao.|
|Signs such as this appear in vineyards along the Douro|
promoting different makers of port wine and signaling
that grapes from the vineyards go into the port.
|A small boat enters a lock on the Douro between Pesa da Regua and Pinhao. The locks make|
the upper river navigable for boats such as those operated by Viking River Cruises.
|A close-up of the boat.|
|Terraced vineyards line the Douro, Portugal's best-known wine region.|
|Our room's very pleasant terrace at Quinta do Vallado looked out on vineyards.|