The Douro valley
The grapes used to produce Port are grown in the upper Douro Valley in north eastern Portugal, one of the world’s most beautiful wine regions. It was the first wine region to be demarcated and regulated by law, in 1756, making Port the oldest controlled denomination of origin.
The upper Douro Valley lies about 100 kilometres inland from the coast and is protected from the influence of the Atlantic winds by a range of mountains called the Marão.
Consequently it is cold in Winter and very hot and dry in Summer. Because the region is mountainous, most vineyards are planted on terraces, many supported by ancient dry stone walls. As elsewhere in Portugal, a vineyard estate is known as a ‘Quinta’.
The vineyard soil of the Douro Valley is very stony and is made up of a flaky ochre-coloured rock called schist. This soil is rich in nutrients but is free draining, obliging the vine to push its roots deep into the soil and down through fissures in the bedrock in search of water. The hot dry climate and the rocky soil mean that yields are very low - not much more than half a litre per vine in top estates like Quinta da Roêda - and the juice extremely rich and concentrated.
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