Though wine has been made in Portugal since Roman times, the country’s spirits industry is experiencing a rapid rebirth as the world discovers its distinctive and increasingly acclaimed wines, especially from the renowned region of the Douro Valley, where the country’s eponymous ports are made.
Thanks to more and more direct flights from the U.S. to Europe and Portugal’s location in the far west of the continent, getting to this fascinating and delightful destination is easier and faster than ever, making a week-long wine discovery vacation the perfect getaway.
Start your journey in the place where Portugal’s most renowned wines come from (and where it gets its name!), Oporto, or Porto as English speakers call it. This picturesque seaside city sits on the dramatic hillsides at the mouth of the Douro River and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996 thanks to its stunning baroque architecture, scenic riverside geography, and distinctive cultural heritage.
Though InterContinental recently opened a property in the heart of the old city, plan your stay on the opposite side of the river in the Vila Nova di Gaia neighborhood where some of the most famous Port houses are, at the new, luxury, wine-focused Yeatman Hotel.
The Yeatman features 82 lavish guest rooms with plush amenities like enormous marble bathrooms, Caudalie bath products, flat-screen TVs, high-speed WiFi, and each also comes with an expansive patio or balcony boasting gorgeous views of the city. Dick’s Bar offers an extended list of local benchmark wines and ports and the hotel’s restaurant serves a seasonal menu of gourmet regional delicacies.
Spend your days here tasting the ports at the big-name port lodges (many are here because until the 1970s, all port wines had to be aged and sold from Vila Nova di Gaia) like Sandeman’s, Graham’s, and Taylor’s; each has several tours a day through their ancient cellars and spectacular guest tasting and tourism facilities.