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!
A stunning view of Porto taken in front of the 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.
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!
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.
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.
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