If you discover the Port Wine Cellars, where this wine is aged after being carefully harvested and prepared on the slopes of the Douro region, you'll discover the history of this product, which is the brand image of this city.
The wine Cellars are situated on the opposite bank of the Douro River, in the city of Vila Nova de Gaia, which is more favourable for conserving the Porto Wine due to its specific climate. The British have historically been keen consumers of this wine and the Cellars have always been very closely linked the to English and Scottish families, who transported it to the four corners of the world.
Each wine cellar has its own story to tell. If you are intending to visit just one, then we can tell you that it will be a hard choice!
The Cellars (caves), almost all centuries old, have frequent scheduled visits. In addition to the guided tours to these cellars, where the wine matures in oak casks of various sizes, the existence of wine tasting. In some cellars visits are free, while others charged a small entrance fee.
In this city there is also the Douro and Porto Wine Institute (Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do Porto), which has a store selling may wines from this region, as well as books related to these wines and the wine-growing region. You can watch videos and there are tastings with a commentary, as well as guided tours.
Here you have a brief description of several of the Port Wine cellars and lodges that you can visit in Vila Nova de Gaia:
Founded in 1790, the brand image of this company is a man in a black cape, like the university students use. It offers tours where the guides are dressed in black capes and Spanish 'sombreros' and at the end of the tour there is always a Port tasting. You can discover all the history of this company at the Sandeman Museum, which was set up by George Sandeman, the British gentleman who decided to sell Porto wines.
This company was formed in 1751 and belonged to D. Antónia Adelaide Ferreira, a strong, determined woman who held a dominant position in the production of wines from the Douro Vinhateiro. There are a variety of visits to choose from at this wine lodge, where you can find out more about a brand that is over 250 years old.
This company was formed in 1737 by J.J. Forrester, who became renowned for making detailed maps of the Douro Region and for having been awarded the title of Baron by the King of Portugal. He is considered to be one of the main personalities in the history of this wine, as he was a wine expert, a businessman, an artist and the author of maps. At this wine lodge, you can even request workshops on wines and sip a Port with some 'tapas'.
Churchill’s was the first Port wine company to be founded and established during the last century, in 1981, by John Graham and his brothers Anthony and William. This company is specialised in producing high quality wines in the Premium wine category.
A. A. Calém
This company has been producing Porto wines since 1859, and if you visit its museum you will be able to learn all about the history of the Demarcated Region of the Douro. This wine cellar has a fado programme (Tuesday to Sunday, between April and October) and the visit ends with a Port wine tasting.
C. N. Kopke
Kopke was set up in 1638 by Christiano Kopke and his son, Nicolau Kopke. In 2006 it changed hands when it was acquired by Sogevinus.
A. Ramos Pinto
With a history dating back over 130 years, you can visit these wine cellars where around 250 thousand litres of wine are stored, as well as the museum. During the visit, you'll have the opportunity of tasting the Reserve Port.
This company was founded in 1588 and so it is already over 400 years old. There is a wonderful terrace and at the end of the visit there is a wine-tasting. However, if you prefer, you can book a blind tasting or a workshop on Port, to improve your knowledge on this wine. Croft is an innovative company, as it was the first in the world to launch a Rosé Port in 2008, the Croft PINK.
Cockburn’s Port Wine Lodge
This company was founded in 1815 by Robert Cockburn and nowadays belongs to the Symington family. This port wine lodge is considered by many to be one of the prettiest and is also one of the most historic places not to be missed in Porto.
J. W. Burmester
In 1730, Henry Burmester and John Nash set up Burmester & Nash in London, a company trading in cereals. They came to Vila Nova de Gaia and in 1750 began exporting Port to the British Isles and to the rest of Europe. The Burmester cellars and museum were re-opened in 2012, where you can admire the vast collection of historic items and wines.
Real Companhia Velha
This company was founded in 1756 by King D. José of Portugal. These cellars are the oldest producers and exporters of Port in the country. It is also known as the Royal Oporto Wine Company. Events can be organised here such as lunches for groups, dinners in a private dining room and corporate activities, as well as private visits.
This wine company was founded in 1855 by Ostende Rozès, a wine merchant. The quality of the wine produced led the son of the founder, Edmond Rozès, to create the Rozès brand in 1910, launching his own wine. This led the company to then settle in Vila Nova de Gaia. This company has belonged to the Vranken Pommery Monopole Group since 1999.
Taylor’s was founded in 1692 and is now open all year round for guided visits which end with a Port tasting, where you can choose a harmonisation tasting with cheeses or chocolates. You can also book a workshop.
W. & J. Graham
This company, which has been in existence since 1820, was set up by two brothers, William and John Graham. It currently has over 3500 barrels of Port. These cellars are in a prime location and offer different types of visits, which always end with a tasting of three types of Graham's Port.
Wiese & Krohn
This company was founded in1865 by two Norwegians, Theodor Wiese and Dankert Krohn. This wine lodge has stocks of aged Port.
Quinta do Noval e Espaço Porto Cruz
These two spaces are not cellars. In the Quinta do Noval shop, you can taste the magnificent Ports from their property in the Douro Valley, where they are still made using the traditional method. Espaço Porto Cruz is a space used for a project which links tradition with modernity, through a seasonal programme offering a variety of cultural and artistic events.