Whether you like wine or not, the Port wine cellars are some of the most fascinating places in Portugal
I have recently visited the Port wine cellars, in Vila Nova de Gaia, and felt as if I was travelling through time, back to when wine barrels were brought by ‘rabelo’ boats from the estates in the Douro region into the city, to be stored and sold.
In spite of being the dim and musty tokens of a history more than 300 years old, while visiting each cellar I did not feel victim of a time warp. If on one hand the cellars take to the 19th century, on the other hand, they also bring us back to modern days as renovated spaces, ensuring a dynamic, alive and up to date wine tourism experience.
Such good examples are the interactive tours with video footage about the Douro region and its traditions, in the Porto Cruz Space, where we can also taste original cocktails with Port wine on a terrace by the river; or the fado music shows along with a glass of wine from Calém cellars.
In Porto Ferreira, social events and conferences take place overlooking the barrels room, and at the Vinum Restaurant, by Graham’s, modern cuisine fuses with Portuguese traditional flavours.
At Croft’s you can enjoy the freshness and youthfulness of a cocktail prepared with Port Pink (rosé Port), while next door, at Taylor’s, handmade chocolates are to be enjoyed over wine tasting.
But history and the past is always present in these cellars. Sandeman holds a collection of old Porto bottles since 1650, Ramos Pinto opens its doors to a Museum dedicated to it’s founder Adriano Ramos Pinto, and Real Companhia Velha keeps, inside a dusty glass case, a bottle of Port from 1765!
Personally, I recommend you to visit, or even revisit, the cellars in Gaia, since what found 10 years ago when I went there for the first time, sure looks very different today!