Wine, enjoyed in moderation, is a healthy food which enriches life.

 

Portugal Wine Tour

Wine, Cuisine, History and Culture

CLICK HERE FOR A TRIP to Burgundy and Provence 

13 Days - September 14 - 26, 2019 NOW BOOKING

All-Inclusive accompanied tour to Portugal including Lisbon, Alentejo, Dao, Bairrada, Porto and Douro Valley.

Register | Price | Itinerary

For years Portugal has only been known to wine drinkers for its rich sweet red wines, fortified with brandy, from the Douro Valley. These are known as Port to English speakers, after the city of Porto from where they are shipped.

However these days there are many fine white and red table wines being made throughout this small country. It is sparsely populated outside the major cities with its magnificently beautiful interior dotted with small villages, many with a mediaeval air.

Modern Portugal is blessed with a splendid new highway system paid for with loans from the European Union. This means you can travel between its two major cities of Porto and Lisbon in three hours and the entire length of the country in six hours.

We will explore red and white wines produced from indigenous grapes like these as well as those made from more familiar international varieties.

Portugal has many modern hotels that are recent conversions and renovations of historic buildings. We will stay in several.

Our trip will see us staying in five luxury 4 and 5 star hotels as we make our way from Lisbon, first eastward and then northwards through the interior to Porto and the Douro Valley in the north.

Towards the conclusion of the tour, we will naturally spend time tasting the famous, often expensive and exclusive Port wines in the historic lodges (where the wines are matured) in Porto, as well as visiting several quintas or wineries in the Douro Valley where the grapes are grown and the wines made before being shipped to Porto for maturation.

Portugal was an important part of the Roman Empire and there are many vestiges remaining to be explored in small towns like Evora.

In September each year as the grape harvest comes to a conclusion, it is still hot during the day and pleasantly warm in the evening for dining outside.

Imagine sardines from the grill, with some fresh bread, olive oil... perfect with a crisp white Bical or Arinto.

 

The Douro River with its steep terraced valley walls is extremely beautiful and is best seen from the water so a river cruise will be included.

We start our journey in magical Lisbon.

 

In mid-September you can expect lots of warm sunny days. In the Alentejo region near Evora daily highs are typically 28-30°C and overnight lows are 16-18°C. On September 7, 2017 the high was 33°C.

It is usually a little cooler at that time of the year in my part of Canada.

Dining outside in the evening is very pleasant, swimming pools at hotels are still popular and most of us will be dressed in shorts and T-shirts for visiting wineries.

There will be time, as usual on my tours, for individual exploration, finding wine bars and restaurants in the cities and small towns we will visit as well as shopping and relaxing by the pool or wandering in the narrow streets and rural markets.

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Guests are required to make their own travel arrangements to Lisbon and home from Porto. There are many ways of flying to Portugal from North America.

Air Canada currently flies direct to Lisbon and Porto, so flights can be booked using Aeroplan points which may be of interest to some.

Register

If you are interested in joining this tour in September 2019....

Email: Steve Thurlow steve@stevethurlow.com

and he will send you a registration form.

Price

The price for the all-inclusive 13 day trip is $6195 per person. Single supplement on request.

A non-refundable deposit of C$800 per guest is required to secure a place on this tour.

Final payment for the trip is required 120 days prior to departure. Guests are advised to take trip cancellation insurance, which we are happy to provide. Please request a quotation when registering for the trip.

The trip price assumes double occupancy in twin/double rooms and includes all land transportation, hotels, breakfasts, visits and tastings, and 16 meals with wines all led by Steve Thurlow.

 

 

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2019 Itinerary

(Included meals: B= Breakfast L= Lunch D= Dinner)

Day 1: Saturday September 14, 2019 Lisbon

The group will meet in central Lisbon at the NH Collection Lisboa Liberdade. This modern, stylish, hotel is right on Avenida de Liberdade, an elegant tree-lined boulevard filled with cafes and designer shops. It’s part of the Baixa district, which features lively Rossio Square and the Santa Justa Elevator, which connects you to Barrio Alto.

We will gather in the hotel bar before leaving for a group dinner in a nearby restaurant.

We only stay here for one night before leaving for nearby Evora.

If one has time it might be worth arriving a few days before the trip to explore the city of Lisbon, if it is new to you, since we do not visit the city of Lisbon during the trip. (D)

 

 

 

 

 

After lunch we will soon be at our hotel in Evora the five star M`AR De AR Aqueduto hotel which is located in the historic centre of Evora, a UNESCO World Heritage designated city.

 

Day 2: Sunday - Alentejo

We leave our hotel in Lisbon after breakfast heading inland to the Alentejo region. After a couple of hours on the road we will arrive in Evora at the Cartuxa winery.

We will visit the estate and cellars in the beautiful grounds at Quinta de Valbom and taste some of their wines there before moving to the Enoteca for more wines with lunch.  

There will be a cooking presentation where we will watch and learn as our traditional Alentejo lunch is prepared.

The philosophy is simple: use only ingredients that are locally grown, fresh and natural.

 

 

 

A major part of the hotel complex is in the renovated C16th Sepulveda Palace, with its beautiful chapel, dome ceilings and a set of three Manueline windows on the main facade.

There is also a magnificent swimming pool which will be most welcome after our day's journey.

The evening is free for settling into the hotel and discovering a little of the nearby city finding a bite to eat and enjoying some local wines. (B,L)

 

 

 

Day 3: Monday - Evora

Our guide to the city, Maria, will take us from our hotel after breakfast for a tour of the city.

The walking tour will finish around lunchtime in the city centre in the Plaza Giraldo where there are many open-air cafes, bars and restaurants to find some refreshment.

 

We leave mid-afternoon to visit the Jose de Souza winery in the centre of nearby Reguengos de Monsaraz.

This winery still makes some of its wines in giant earthenware amphora.

 

 

 

 

After a brief visit to the winery we will head towards the Esporao wine estate to the south of the Reguengos.

The winery, one of the largest in the area, lies in the middle of a large estate. Many of their wines can be found in Canada and after tasting some we will take dinner at the winery with our winery hosts.

After dinner we return to our hotel in Evora. (B,D)

 

Day 4: Tuesday - Evora

Portugal is the major supplier of cork to the world, the most profitable use of which is for bottle stoppers.

This morning we will visit the Maroteira Estate for some cork- trecking

Around 9:30 we will arrive at this extensive estate where they raise cattle and wild boar in their cork tree forests.

We will spend about 2 hours visiting their forests in 4x4 vehicles and learn about the sustainable practises that keep the ancient cork industry alive as well as providing all year round jobs to the local community.

They also have a vineyard and produce some fine wine that we will taste at the end of the visit.

 

 

 

We will then leave to visit the Fita Preta estate.

The harvest should be in full swing with staff working long hours during our time in the Alentejo wine region.

However at Fita Preta they always stop around 13:00 for lunch. On this day we will join them for a vineyard lunch.

We may linger a little after our hosts go back to the harvest since we will have no pressing activities and the wines are superb.

 

 

We head back to our hotel after our lunch.

The balance of the day is free for relaxing at the hotel and maybe spending more time exploring the mediaeval streets of Evora, and finding a bite to eat if hungry. (B,L)

 

 

Day 5: Wednesday - Central Portugal

After breakfast we checkout of the hotel and head north into the central part of Portugal.

We pass through hilly countryside with extensive cork oak forests. In many places we will see where the bark has been removed for processing.

We will soon arrive at the seaside resort town of Figuera da Foz with its enormous white sandy beach.

 

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We will stay here for a couple of hours, wandering in the town or relaxing on the beach.

Maybe watching a game of beach volley ball.

 

There will also be time to find a place for lunch or maybe a gelato.

About 30 minutes after we leave the beach resort we will arrive at the Vista Alegre factory in Illhavo.

This famous manufacturer of porcelain and crystal was founded in 1824 in the town.

   

 

When I was there in June 2018, storks had made a nest on top of one of the disused factory chimneys and were feeding their young.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The visit to the factory includes a museum which tells the history of the company and shows many amazing pieces.

 

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One also gets the chance to watch the amazingly skilled artists as they hand paint objects.

 

On leaving Vista Alegre we will be at our modern hotel for the next three nights in nearby Aveiro in 15 minutes.

We will stay at the Melia Ria which sits beside one of the town's main canals and is a six minute walk from the Forum shopping and entertainment complex. It is a further few minutes walk from there to the centre of this lively and picturesque town.

There will be time after check-in maybe for a swim in the indoor pool and for a walk into the town centre.

 

We will take dinner in the town together later in the evening. (B,D)

 

Day 6: Thursday - Barraida

We make a leisurely start today to give time to enjoy the hotel and the town.

Just before lunch we leave to visit the nearby Campolargo estate.

We take a light lunch at the winery before returning to the hotel.

 

 

 

 

Early evening we leave to visit the Alianca winery for a visit to their extensive cellars which are now the Alianca Underground Museum. There are eight private collections of diverse artifacts from the fields of archaeology, ethnography, mineralogy, paleontology as well as ceramic tiles and tins covering millions of years of history.

They are part of the Berardo Collection, which is the result of the constant effort of José Berardo in collecting and caring for objects of scientific, artistic, historical and sentimental importance.

We will taste their wines and take dinner at the winery.

 

 

Barraida is renowned for its suckling pig which will be the centrepiece of tonight's dinner.

 
After dinner we return to the hotel. (B,L,D)    

Day 7: Friday - Dao and Pinhao

We checkout of our hotel after breakfast and head northeastwards into the Dao wine region. We will visit Quinta dos Carvalhais.

This large modern winery is part of the Sogrape group and produces many wines that are in our stores in Canada.

Beatriz Cabral de Almeida, chief oenologist, will be pleased to show us her winery and to share a tasting with us.

We take lunch at the winery and then after lunch head north to the Douro Valley to visit the vineyards and wineries there.

 

We will stay in Pinhao, a small town in the centre of the Douro grape growing region, for three nights visiting wineries by bus, train and ship.

 

 

Our hotel for the next three nights, Vintage House hotel, is in the centre of the town of Pinhao on the banks of the Douro.

 

 

Its tranquil riverside location at Pinhão is in the authentic heart of the Douro Valley.

The Douro is one of Europe’s oldest wine regions, a breath-taking landscape that has been adapted by man over the centuries and enjoys UNESCO World Heritage status.

It is one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world.

The balance of the day is free for settling into the hotel and exploring the quaint town and finding a bite to eat. (B,L)

Day 8: Saturday - Douro Valley

After breakfast we leave our hotel to visit the beautiful Quinta do Penascal, the source for many of the top wines of Fonseca.

We will make a walking tour of the vineyard before tasting the wines and then lunch on the terrace overlooking the river.

 

 

From now on we will be travelling by train and boat as we continue to explore some of the more remote parts of the region that are not easily accessible by road. There will be a group dinner in a restaurant close to the hotel this evening.

After we return to the hotel, we will say goodbye to our bus driver. (B,L,D)

 

Day 9: Sunday - Quinta de Vargellas

Quinta de Vargellas is pre-eminent among the wine estates of the Douro. Located in the wild and hilly eastern reaches of the valley, it has been prized as a source of the finest ports since the 1820s. Today it ranks among the great vineyards of the world.

In 1884 the railway was extended eastwards along the bank of the Douro, leading to the expropriation of part of the Vargellas vineyard and in 1886 to the construction of the Vargellas railway station.  In the same year, Lower and Middle Vargellas were purchased by the general contractor of the railway, Domingos Burguets, who went on to sell both properties to Taylor’s in 1893.

Wine from this estate always forms an important part of Taylor's Vintage Port.

We will take the train from the back of our hotel in Pinhao to visit the estate late this morning giving further time for relaxation in the hotel or for exploring the town.

   

The harvest should be in full swing and if we are lucky we may be asked to help tread the grapes in the large traditional lagars.

We will certainly taste the wines of the estate and take lunch on the terrace overlooking the Douro.

After lunch there may be time to walk up to the viewpoint above the winery for those looking for some exercise.

Late afternoon, when it comes time to leave these idyllic surroundings, we will board a traditional rabelo boat for the two-hour journey back downstream to our hotel.

The evening will be free. (B,L)

Since the Douro Valley is not easily seen from the road, the best way to travel its length taking in all its beauty is by train. The railway hugs the river bank most of the way from Pinhao to Porto.

 

Day 10: Monday - Quinta de Bomfim and Porto

Our last morning in Pinhao will be for exploring the wine estate, Quinta do Bomfim, that lies behind our hotel. After breakfast we will checkout of the hotel and walk to the nearby estate.

The estate is family-owned and the Symington family have lived and worked here for five generations.

The family own 27 quintas in the Alto Douro and these estates are the foundation for the different wines of Graham’s, Cockburn’s, Dow’s, Warre’s and Quinta do Vesuvio, as well as of the Symington family’s Douro table wines.

We will visit the estate and taste the wines, taking a light lunch.

Soon it will be time to board our train for the journey down the Douro Valley to Porto. Our luggage will be collected from our hotel and delivered to our destination so we will not have to bother with it.

 

It takes under 3 hours for the train journey, so late afternoon we will arrive in Porto and will soon be at our hotel for the next three nights.

 

 

The balance of the day is free to settle into the hotel and to start exploring the city as well as finding some supper. (B,L)

We will stay at the Pestana Vintage Porto hotel on the banks of the Douro in the heart of Porto’s historical district, which is a UNESCO World Heritage area.

From here it is a short walk to Porto's many shops, bars and restaurants. It is also easy to walk to the Port Lodges on the southern bank of the Douro in Vila Nova di Gaia.

 

 

 

 

Day 11: Tuesday - Porto

This morning is free for shopping and visiting Porto or for relaxing at the hotel.

Late morning we cross the river to walk to the Sandeman Port Lodge for a tour, tasting and light lunch.

We return to the hotel after lunch. Late afternoon we leave by bus to visit the nearby seaside and port city of Matosinhos that is famous for its many seafood restaurants, at one of which, we will have a group dinner. (B,L,D)

 

Day 12: Wednesday - Porto

We cross the river once more this morning to walk to the Ramos Pinto Port Lodge which is still in the original C19th building.

 

The founder of the company was Adriano Ramos Pinto. His office, conserved since the 1930's, is today a museum area. Our guide will take us back to the 19th century with images, objects and stories.

We will visit the maturation cellars and taste the ports and table wines that they produce.

We then walk along the quay back towards the bridge to visit the Calem cellars part of the Sogevinus group.

They will organize a tasting of their tawny ports which will be followed by a light lunch accompanied by some of Sogevinus table wines and ports.

After lunch the balance of the day will be free for further exploration or relaxing at the hotel.

 

 

 

Our final group dinner will be at a restaurant close to the hotel.

This will certainly be a fine dining experience for our last night together. (B,L,D)

 

Day 13: Thursday September 26th, 2019 - Porto

The group will disperse after breakfast in the hotel in Porto. (B)

Email Steve@SteveThurlow.com for more info.

 

 

 

 

 

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Conditions

The above itineraries are as planned. However we reserve the right to make adjustments depending upon weather and other constraints, to substitute visits to alternative wineries and to arrange accommodation at hotels of similar standard in the towns mentioned.

Prices are for double occupancy in twin/double rooms (single supplement on request). Hotels are subject to availability.

The price for the tour covers luxury coach transportation, hotels and entrance fees and guide fees to all attractions described in the itinerary. Also included are breakfasts every day, winery visits and tastings, cooking school and 16 meals with wines.

Guests are responsible for their own transportation to the hotel in Lisbon and from the hotel in Porto at the end of the tour.

This price is correct at present but may change as a result of currency variations or other circumstances beyond our control. We accept credit card payments for the trip deposit but do not accept payment by credit card for the final trip payment unless special arrangements are made.

In accordance with the Ontario Industry Travel Act, below is the registered name, address and registration number of the provider of the travel services:

UNIGLOBE Enterprise Travel Ltd.
34 Britain Street, Suite 200
Toronto, Ontario
M5A 1R6

Agent: Steve Thurlow

TICO Registration Number: 1810380

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