Guided Day Trip To Douro Valley
When I first saw the magnificent view from the tiny village of Casal de Loivos, in Douro Valley, it was easy to understand what prompted the BBC to consider it one of the 6 best in the world. From a viewing terrace on this privileged hilltop above a bend in the Douro River, I began to appreciate the extent of the hilly UNESCO wine region and watched cruise ships and wooden boats make their way up and downstream via the riverside village of Pinhão.
Walking downhill through the vineyards to this village offers the chance to absorb the quintessential elements of the Douro Valley with wonderful views throughout. As if any further incentive was needed, there are two visitable wineries at the end of the walk.
I walked from Casal de Loivos to Pinhão on a warm sunny day in February, back when the grape vines were nothing but dark, twisted stumps, completely bare of leaves. Even then, the patchwork of rows, curves and shapes within the vineyards had me clicking away with the camera and sighing with the joy of being in such surroundings. Every bend in the track seemed to offer a new photo opportunity as it wound around the hillside to provide glimpses of neighbouring terraced slopes and almond trees in blossom. Once the vine leaves have grown back, the scenery will be even better.
As we walked down the schist-strewn path, a man was hard at work building a new terrace wall from slabs of the brown stone which makes up this landscape and terroir. Other workers were busy in the vineyards, pruning the grapevines in preparation for this year’s growth while others burned the cuttings, which explained the plumes of smoke I’d noticed all around the area.
When we reached the flatter land surrounding Quinta da Roeda, the activity increased, although by the time we walked through the workers’ yard it was clear that people were beginning to make their way home after a busy day. This wine estate produces Croft’s port wines, which you can of course taste while you’re here.
Since it was getting late, we continued making our way to Pinhão through the vineyards of Quinta do Bomfim where the traditional buildings have been beautifully renovated to allow visitors to understand the story of the Symington family, owners of a huge chunk of the Douro wine production. Sipping three types of port wine in their tasting room, overlooking the Douro River, is the perfect end to an enjoyable scenic walk.