November 21, 2013
The American group of Jim Wagner is fantastic! They visited Portugal and one of their best moments were in Douro Valley. They loved the tranquillity of this region, they were impressed with the chance to tread grapes and they loved the Port Wine.
At the end, they were sure that they will spread the name of Douro Region and Port Wine throughout the world. And while they do not return, they wanted to give their testimony about this adventure that ecoTours Portugal prepared for them in Douro Valley.
Jim Wagner is an American tourist and during his holidays in Portugal, he and his group, explored the Douro Valley. This region is perfectly splendid throughout the year, but they visited this winery region in its greatest splendour: the time of harvest!
Thus, they visited farms, they learned about the process of wine production, they tasted the world famous Port Wines and they had the chance to tread the grapes (it is an important phase of the wine production). And, surely, they won’t forget the experience of walking in the vats, through the sweet grapes.
This nice and friendly group decided to visit the Douro Valley because they read good reviews about this Region. But the Douro Valley impressed them more than they expected: they highlight its indescribable serenity, calm and silence and the hospitality of the people they met. Oh and, of course… they have become fans of the velvety Port Wine! Now, they are true Port Wine lovers!
At the end of this tour through Douro Valley, Jim Wagner wanted to give his testimony to inspire all those who love calm and winery tours. Furthermore, he highlighted the professionalism and sympathy of our ecoTours team.
Travel Blog: Why did you choose Portugal as your holiday destination?
Jim Wagner: My answer is that I knew our group would love Portugal as much as I do when you combine the European ambiance, historical structures, and friendly people. My wife’s answer is great food and wine at cheap prices.
TB: Did you visit Portugal before?
JW: Out of our group of 12 only my wife and I had been to Portugal, but we had never been to the Douro region.
TB: What are the most peculiar characteristic of Portugal and Portuguese people?
JW: First, I would say that as an American with no foreign language skills it is amazing how many people understand English. Even when we got off the main tourist routes we had little trouble communicating and people were eager to help. It takes some time to get used to the late dinner hours, but we had no problems fortifying ourselves during the day with some Superbock and snacks. The other things we experienced – you can never be the fastest driver, there is always a good bakery somewhere nearby, and if you eat it you pay for it, but chances are, it’s worth it.
TB: Why a visit to the Douro Region and, in your opinion, what makes the Port Wine so special and different from others?
JW: We specifically picked the Douro region based on travel article descriptions and it did not disappoint. I don’t think pictures or videos capture the beauty and serenity of the region. We live in the wine region of New York, but it pales in comparison to the views you experience on the Douro.
While our group were all wine fans before visiting the Douro Region none of us were Port drinkers. That changed after the first few days of our trip. After going on the tours and becoming educated to the port winemaking process and drinking tips I don’t think a meal passed without a round (or two) of port to finish it off. It is like dessert in a glass, but easily complements dessert as well!
TB: How can you describe the Douro Region in September and your experience in treading the grapes?
JW: I think the best word for the region would be peaceful. When we were on the tour in between our winery visits we had lunch in a small restaurant right on the Douro. Sitting outside there was almost no noise, except from our group, and we all just enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere.
I was so excited that we timed our visit with the harvest. The people at Quinta do Tedo could not have been nicer about letting us tread grapes and it really made me appreciate the personal care they put into their craft. I will never forget the feeling of walking in the vats and it is an experience that nobody else I know has had.
TB: What would you highlight about the visit to Quinta do Tedo and Quinta do Seixo?
JW: The great thing about visiting the two different wineries was to see the differences between the small and large producers. Quinta do Tedo let you experience a family run operation where you can tell that wine is their passion. Quinta do Seixo showed that quality is important for the large corporations as well, but the highlight there was really the views over the region. Set high on a hill overlooking the Douro we took our tastings out to the patio and basked in the sunshine and views.
TB: Was there any place or anything that disappointed you in Douro Region?
JW: Some of our group got a little queasy on the ride out to the Douro Region. Once you get off the highway it is a very scenic road to the top and bottom of the mountain, but the number of switchbacks did not sit well with some of our group. I would imagine the amount of wine we had the night before might have contributed to the situation.
TB: Are you planning to return to Portugal after this tour?
JW: This was my wife and I’s fifth trip to Portugal and every time we say we probably won’t go back, but we continually seem to end up visiting again. The rest of the group was enamored by the country as well and I would not be surprised to see a return trip scheduled in the future. From New York the flight times are not much different than going to the west coast of the US.
TB: What will you tell to American people about this country and specially about the Douro Region?
JW: I always tell people that Portugal is an overlooked gem in Europe. If you are looking to check the boxes for what you want in a European vacation it has it all. Beaches, picturesque cities, monasteries, churches, castles, first class golf, wineries, quaint villages – all available at a price point that is unmatched in western Europe. Also, the food, it never disappoints, especially if you are a seafood fan.
TB: Would you recommended our company to someone who is thinking about planning a visit to Portugal? Why?
JW: I would highly recommend EcoTours. Making the arrangements from the US before our trip could not have been easier and made me confident that everything would go smoothly. Once the trip started the tour guide and driver were very flexible and accommodating to the needs of our group. Our group is not fond of pre-packaged tours and we were very satisfied with the personal service and the way the full day was managed.
Tread the grapes, taste Port Wine, fell the tranquillity of Douro Region are the highlights for this American group tour. But if you want to discover the secrets of Douro Valley you mustn’t lose the chance to visit this pearl of Portugal. We have wonderful suggestions for you:
Marta has a Master degree in Communication Sciences. As a combination of a geek girl and a digital fan, she coordinates the Digital Marketing Department. She has a deep passion for travelling, she is a proud Portuguese and she is very dedicated and enthusiastic. Always working to allow the best user and digital experience to visitors.@Marta Afonso Read more posts written by Marta Afonso