From the Minho, we headed south for a little wine tasting in the Douro. This was the part of the trip that I was looking forward to the most. I couldn’t wait to drink in the striking landscape and relax with a nice glass of wine. (The region is famous for the production of port, but also produces a lot of great red wines.)
We set off for the Douro like we always do, by plugging the address in to google maps. Just as we were approaching the driveway to the place we rented, I had a real Michael Scott moment where I was absolutely sure the gps was leading us off a cliff. But…low and behold, when we made the turn there was (a very, very, very) steep road leading down towards the river. Driving up this driveway the next day was the ultimate test of my manual transmission driving skills…
Though my hands were sore from gripping the steering wheel so tight, I was delighted when greeted by this welcoming site. This may have been the most comfortable place we’ve ever found on airbnb. Plus, the view was divine and at about $100/night the price was just right.
The next day, we headed out to do a little wine tasting in the Douro. As we arrived to the top of our cliff/driveway, we pulled out right behind this truck full of grapes, which we took as a positive sign. The roads were pretty nerve-wracking, and I’m almost certain that some of them were meant for tractors, not cars. I can’t decide what made the trip more dangerous–the narrow/steep roads, the crazy drivers, or the striking (and very distracting) scenery.
Luckily, the drive was well worth it. We didn’t know a lot about Portuguese wines when we were planning our trip. Most of my research consisted of a few quick google searches and contacting whichever wineries I found with functioning websites (fewer than you might imagine). My high tech searching led us to a wine tasting at Quinta do Crasto.
The view was so gorgeous, it was difficult for our guide to convince us to step inside to try the wines.
When I saw this infinity pool overlooking the river and the vineyards along the Douro, I immediately added a few nights at Quinta do Crasto to my wishlist of places to vacation.
The winery was still in the middle of harvest when we arrived, so we had the pleasure of watching the winery staff at work. First sorting the grapes by hand.
Then separating them from the stems by machine. The wines were very good, and we even tried a port that we liked–it was a far cry from the alcoholic syrup we were served down in Porto.
Our original plan was to poke around the region before going to Quinta Nova for dinner. However, after driving the road between the place we were staying and Quinta do Crasto, driving back at night after a long dinner sounded like the least appealing thing we could think of. So we called up Quinta Nova and asked if we could switch our reservation to lunch. They kindly obliged, and we were on our way.
Quinta Nova was just across the valley from Quinta do Crasto, so it barely took us 15 minutes to get there.
We were a little early for lunch, so they poured us a glass of their muscatel do douro as an aperitif. With a view of the harvest on one side and the river on the other, I almost forgot we were there to eat lunch.
Luckily, the staff at Quinta Nova did not forget about lunch. Everything was well thought out and delightfully presented.
We decided to go for their tasting menu, which was comprised of about 5 courses.
One of my favorites was the pumpkin soup with crispy pancetta, creme fraiche, and chestnuts.
We also loved the cod served on eggplant with tomatoes and onions.
Finally, a citrus cake with blackberry compote. There were several more courses, but we were trying hard not to be ‘those people’ fretting about trying to get the perfect shot of our food. Overall, the meal was amazing. Everything was well prepared, the setting could not have been more perfect, and the service was friendly and professional. Their wines were also great, and perfectly complemented each of the dishes we tried.