Porto: The Douro Valley & Quinta do Bomfin

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Walking through the vineyard

One of our must-do’s while in Porto was taking a trip to the Douro Valley. You have many options for getting there – renting a car, taking part in a tour that begins in Porto, or taking the train. If you know Koen and me, we love taking the train (hence the Trans-Siberian Express vacation we took two years ago from Moscow and ending in Beijing). So any opportunity for a long train ride – we’re in! Plus that means no one has to drive and we’re both able to enjoy the tasting.

There are three trains a day from Porto to the Douro Valley, so we needed to plan our visit accordingly. The Douro Valley is divided into three sections, starting with closest to Porto: Baixo Corgo, Cima Corgo, and Douro Superior. The further away you travel, the better the wines become. Because we weren’t spending the night (time constraints!) we decided to visit Pinhão, the principal city in Cima Corgo and also where most of the famous Quintas (wine estates) are located. From Porto, this is a 3 hour train ride each way.

We made reservations for a tour, tasting, and picnic lunch at Quinta do Bomfin. We decided to visit one Quinta in depth rather than attempt many visits in one afternoon. When I was researching best experiences for visits of the Douro Valley, Quinta do Bomfin appeared again and again, so it made our decision easier!

From the Symington Family Estate website (yes, same family from Graham’s):

Acquired by George Warre for Dow’s in 1896, the name of the property derived from Vale do Bomfim, ‘the well-placed valley’, as the area around the village of Pinhão was then known. […] One of the finest Douro estates, Quinta do Bomfim is sited in the heart of the Upper Douro Valley, ideally located in an area of transition between temperate and Mediterranean climates. Predominantly south-facing with ample solar exposure, the schist slopes are arranged in vineyard terraces which have yielded Dow’s memorable Vintage Ports for over a century.

All the grapes harvested at the property are taken to the small on-site winery where they are trodden in modern lagares, faithful to the method developed over hundreds of years which continues to make the finest Ports.

 

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Train station in Porto – not lucky with the weather

 

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The inside of the train station is very beautiful with the blue and white tiled murals

 

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Very old train station really just in the center of the city

 

 

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Arrived in Pinhão

 

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Thank goodness for all of the signs – it was an easy 10 minute walk to Quinta do Bomfin from the station

 

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Some family history of the Symingtons and their ties to Quinta do Bomfin and the Douro Valley

 

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Where the grapes are crushed

 

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The soil in which the Douro Valley vines are planted is made up of schist, a slate-like metamorphic rock that is rich in nutrients and has useful water retention properties.

 

 

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The bad weather continued all day, so so did our tasting indoors

 

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Premium Tawny Port Tasting: Dow’s 20 Year Old Tawny, Graham’s 40 Year Old Tawny, and Dow’s 1992 Single Harvest

 

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Premium Vintage Port Tasting: Quinta do Vesuvio 1993 Vintage, Dow’s 1995 Vintage, and Graham’s 2000 Vintage

 

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Our picnic lunch inside – delicious and worth it if you visit!

 

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Last view of Pinhão before heading back – we really want to come back and stay a week in the Douro Valley!

 

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