Porto: Port Wine Tour at House of Sandeman

Posted by on Mar 10, 2016 in Destinations, Portugal, Travel Photo Thursday | 23 comments

Port Wine

Join me this week sipping port wine across the Douro river from Porto in Vila Nova de Gaia (usually known simply as Gaia). Welcome to week 269 (3/10/16) of Travel Photo Thursday

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As lovely as Porto is, I was getting a little weary of the constant rain, cold, and wind. On my second last day in the city, I was treated to a late afternoon break in the weather. I took it as a sign that I really should head across the river to Gaia and a tour of the wine cellars at the famed House of Sandeman, who are celebrating 225 years of winemaking this year!


House of Sandeman

Port Wine

A stunning view of Porto taken in front of the House of Sandeman.


View of Porto from House of Sandeman


Teeming with people, I thought I might not get a ticket for a tour. Thankfully, there was still a few spots remaining for the last English tour of the day. We met our tour guide in front of the winery’s famous  ‘The Don’ logo. As you can see, she dressed for the part; reminding me of Antonio Banderas in “Zorro”! ‘The Don’ was originally designed by Scottish artist George Massiot Brown and was based on the black cape worn by Portuguese students and a Spanish Caballero hat.


House of Sandeman Guide


Our “Don” walks us through the large dimly lit cellars, lined with oak casks on both sides. The full-body smell of both port wine and wood permeates the air. Stopping along the way, she shares the history of the House of Sandeman, and how the port is produced and aged. Note the cellar floors. They look like stone, but made of oak!


Casks of Port

Casks of Port


There was ample opportunity for photos, and we watched a very informative video that includes the company’s history, Douro Valley vineyards, and the all-important port making process, before heading into the rather large wine tasting hall. We were given a brief introduction to the different port wine that the company produces, including ruby port, tawny port, and vintage port. Now it was our turn to try the port. We sampled a tawny port and a ruby port to sample. We all checked out the color, took a whiff, and swirled it in our glass before the first taste. I decided to try the tawny first, and I found it to be a bit acidic. The ruby port was more to my liking; very smooth without any a hint of acidity.

Tawny and Ruby Port


Getting to sample Port wine, and touring the cellars was a real treat on my almost last day in the city. Sandemans offers a variety of tours. I arrived late, so the only tour available was the Classic. Check them out here.


Please welcome our co-hosts this week: Jan from Budget Travel Talk Ruth from Tanama Tales  Rachel from Rachel’s Ruminations


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  1. Hi Nancie, My brother in-law was in Porto for a month at the same time as you and said it rained all the time! Thank goodness the wine was good. The houses along the river look great.

    • Hi Jan! See, I’m not exaggerating! 🙂 The old town area by the river is gorgeous. Your right, the wine helped to deal with the rain! 🙂

  2. I do love Sandeman sherries. In fact, a friend of mine likes them so much, she named her dog (a St Bernhard) Sandeman. 🙂

    • Hi Sophie! What a great name for a dog! If I lived in Europe, I would be getting to know their sherries a little bit better 🙂

  3. On this -beyond rainy – morning in Seattle there is no place with rain that calls out to me, with the exception of Porto, as you have enticed me with this tour. Your photos are so atmospheric (for lack of a better word) I felt like I was right there with you. Happy week, Nancie!

    • Hi Jackie. Thanks for your kind words! The rain really did add atmosphere, but I could have done with less than 6 days straight! 🙂

  4. Mmmm – Sandeman Dry Cherry – it’s been years since I drunk the last! Still my favorite but where I’m traveling it’s impossible to find. Actually until your post, where I recognized the logo, I had forgotten about it – it’s been that long!

    • Hi Juergen! Thanks for stopping by. I can imagine that it wouldn’t be that easy to find in South American, and/or very expensive.

  5. That’s so funny he’s dressed up!!

    • All the guides dress like this 🙂

  6. That photo of Porto from in front of the winery really makes me want to visit. I didn’t realize that ports were anything but, well, port colored. The coloring of the tawny port is a surprise. Have a good beginning of the semester and dream often of your trip.

    • Hi Michele. I didn’t know a lot about Port, either. I always thought that it was more of a liquor than a wine. I had no idea there was a tawny port. The ruby is definitely the more popular.

  7. I love a good wine tour, though it is great to get a little history like where the black cape and hat originated/

    • Hi Sally. I think learning about the history made the tour more memorable.

  8. This looks like a great tour my husband and I would have enjoyed. We really wish we had more time in Portugal to go to Porto.The shot of Porto looks so lovely. Good luck with the new semester!

    • Hi Mary. Porto is a lovely city! (even in the rain…haha). I enjoyed the tour, and if I had gotten there earlier, I probably would have opted for one of the longer tours. I took the last one of the day.

  9. So what I want to know is whether Porto is named after port wine? A nice drop of port would have gone down well on a wet and dreary day I’m thinking. Looks like a lovely place.

  10. Porto is so beautiful and with a glass of port it’s just perfect. I’ve been there a few years ago and the port wine tour was just marvelous!

  11. Interesting wine tour! The clicks of the cellar are nice.

  12. It looks like Porto may have had you longing for the sunny Algarve again and your photo of the city certainly emphasizes the dreary weather! This looks like a very interesting tour and goes hand-in-hand with the tour we all took to the cork factory.

  13. I’m glad you found some sherry that you like, Nancie.
    The oak floors are quite impressive – if you hadn’t mentioned it, I wouldn’t have known.

  14. Haha your tour guide really did look the part. Love the “don” look 🙂 And the winery looks awesome as well.

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