September brings the Douro grape harvest


Douro River Valley

The annual grape harvest is set to begin in the Douro River Valley in September. With hot, dry conditions this summer, growers predict an early harvest, but have expectations for a strong crop of grapes this year.

Flowing across northern Portugal towards the ocean at Porto, the wine valleys of the Douro have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. In villages like Entre-os-Rios, Regua and Pinhão, wine producing is the centre of life. For centuries, the region has been famous for producing amazing port wines. Each year, tourists pour into the country to enjoy the annual harvest of the valley’s grapes.

Wine-making experts are hopeful for this year’s crop.

“Conditions are similar to 2011. Both years experienced warm dry springs and summers,” said David Guimaraens, head winemaker for the Fladgate partnership, to a popular wine publication.
“The ground water reserves this year are fine so we are hoping for a very good harvest, although it will be starting earlier than usual. We expect to receive the first grapes at the Quinta da Nogueira winery during the last week of August.”

Many of the local wine producers have previously said that 2011 was one of the most powerful and concentrated Port vintages seen in over 20 years of Douro Valley growing.

For travellers during the harvest, there is the popular visage of visitors rolling up their trousers to take part in the traditional stomping of the grapes in their barefeet. All stamping is usually followed by a warm afternoon of tasting the world’s finest ports.

Wine has been produced in the Alto Douro region for some 2,000 years. This long tradition of wine producing has helped shape the cultural landscape in the region. It permeates life in this part of Portugal. It is a wonderful destination for those seeking relaxation amidst luxury aboard a river cruise ship on the Douro.

Image Credit: mat's eye (flickr.com)