Monday, October 8, 2018

Portugal Bound: Porto & The Douro

"Of all the places where men have planted vineyards the upper Douro is the most improbable."
--Hugh Johnson 

Tonight, I'll board an Azores Airlines plane, crossing the Atlantic, and headed to Portugal, specifically the city of Porto. Who wouldn't be excited?

I'll be journeying to this country as part of a FamTrip, a familiarization trip, with a number of travel agents and other media people. The trip is being organized by the Associação dos Empresários Turísticos do Douro e Trás-os-Montes (AETUR), a nonprofit, private collective entity that has gathered together over 200 tourism-related businesses. Established in 2002, AETUR's primary areas of operation include the Douro and Trás-os-Montes.

We'll begin our tour in Porto and then travel to the Douro region, the home of Port Wine though they make some excellent still wines as well. I'll likely be stopping at places including Bragança, Tarouca, Ucanha, Salzedas, Lamego, Matosinhos and Leixões. We also should be visiting Quinta do Paço, Casa do JoaQuinta da Casa Amarela, Quinta do Vallado, Quinta de Covela, and Graham's. My itinerary looks to be quite full so I definitely won't be bored.

Last year, over 12.7 million tourists visited Portugal, an increase of about 12% since 2016. In 2016, in the northern region of Portugal, tourism, which included an overnight stay, reached about 6.8 million people, an increase of 10.7% over 2015. And in 2017, there were about 1.2 million tourist who traveled by boat on the Douro River, an increase of an astounding 35% over 2016. Clearly, Portugal and the Douro region are seeing significant increases of tourism, and such increases are likely to continue in the near future.

This will be my first trip to Portugal and I'm very eager to finally visit, greatly looking forward to my explorations. As I've said multiple times before: "I have heard the clarion call for the wines of Portugal, those intriguing wines which seduce with their tantalizing aromas and flavors. It is my desire that many others feel the urge of that clarion call too. To that end, I have become an ardent advocate for Portuguese wines, to share all the excellence I have found in their wines."

I've written over 40 articles on Portuguese wine and food, and I've also referenced Portuguese wines, generally as a category, in numerous other articles on my blog. Over 40 Portuguese wines have ended up on my annual Top Ten Wine lists. At the wine shop where I work, I've often recommended Portuguese wines to the customers, making converts of many people. I'm a Certified Wine Location Specialist, which deals with Port and Champagne. I was also inducted, due to my ardent promotion of Port wine, as a Cavaleiro in the Confraria do Vinho do Porto, essentially making me a Knight in the Brotherhood of Port Wine.

I'm sure that I'll take many hundreds of photos and a myriad of notes of my experiences in Portugal, which I'll share with my readers upon my return. And I'll share some pictures while I'm in Portugal as well.

And I can't wait to enjoy a Francesinha in Porto!

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