The Douro is somewhat an enchanted region. The grandeur of the landscape, its colors, the slope vineyards, the traditions. Although some modern techniques have been introduced in the wine process, the traditional techniques still apply and this is one of the best features about the harvest season.
Come along and learn a bit more about the Douro region and the wine-making process!
If you’re a wine lover, we are sure you’re going to enjoy the ride. If you’re in just to explore one of the most beautiful regions in the world, sit back and relax. You’re definitely going to be amazed!
The Douro landscape
The Douro Valley looks like an illustrated postcard. Everywhere you look you want to get your camera and register the landscape. It’s, indeed, one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world. The vine lines and their colors are totally mesmerizing.
Vineyards are mostly organized in slopes, giving the landscape a very dramatic look. If you visit the Douro region throughout the year, you’ll notice the different colors, as leaves and grapes mature as seasons settle in. The grapes, hidden between the leaves, are red, green, white or deep purple. The leaves, themselves, change colors. From green to a golden brown, changing into orange and red.
As mentioned in our Douro harvests and Autumn Enchantment September is the month of the harvest, although there’s not a set date for its start. The harvest depends on the ripeness of the grapes. And that depends on the weather conditions throughout the ripening process.
Driving along the N222 (National Road) you’ll see how the Douro region comes alive with visitors and workers, during the harvest season. Wine trucks going up and down the roads, transporting the grapes to the wine mills, workers going up and down carrying their buckets and scissors. There are traditional songs echoing.
We do live in the era of technology but traditions are still very respected and well-kept in this Portuguese region. Truth is that originally, the grape harvesting was a moment of celebration for the communities, to which the wine production was their livelihood.
Despite being a very hard and demanding activity, the harvesting was always looked upon as a celebration and never as a sacrifice. It was a moment where friends and family got together and where the community spirit prevailed. At the end of the day, they all sat at the same table, enjoyed their meal, and celebrated life, community, and solidarity!
Nowadays, the harvesting process is much more simple and mechanical. But this modernization has not affected the traditions or the celebratory spirit. Friends and families still get together to harvest the grapes – a small part, just to keep the traditional process alive and pass it on from generation to generation – and then celebrate with food, wine, and traditional songs.
In fact, if you want to, you can be part of the process. You can experience the Douro harvests. There are plenty of programs that allow you to participate – hands-on – and experience this secular tradition of winemaking. Are you ready to get your hands (and feet!) dirty?!
Start by cutting the grapes from the grapevines, put them in the baskets and repeat. Learn the lyrics and sing along to the traditional songs. You can – and should – stop to breath in and appreciate the breathtaking landscape of the Douro valley.
Don’t forget you’re on a UNESCO’s World Heritage region! Put your pants up. It’s time to tread the grapes. Old fashion style! Pants up and feet down, almost as military marching. There are traditional songs for this too! At the end of the day, enjoy a home-cooked meal and take in all this experience has to offer!