Which are the 5 best wine cellars in Porto, Portugal? Where to find them? How to visit wine cellars in Porto? We prepared this quick guide to help you find your way to the best wine cellars in Porto.
Port wine is one of the major attractions of Porto – and it is indeed the town’s well deserved claim to fame. Your visit to Porto will not be complete without seeing at least one of the centuries’ old cellars of this precious fortified wine and having a degustation of a few excellent ports.
Where is Port Wine Produced?
Port wine is produced exclusively in the pictoresque Douro River Valley in Portugal. Interestingly, it’s the third world’s oldest wine with appellation – geographical indication protected since 1756.
Why then does it bear the name of the city of Porto? Because that’s where the ageing, bottling, and all the commerce has been taking place for centuries.
Where are the Best Wine Cellars in Porto?
Most of the port wine cellars are located on the shore of the Douro River opposite to Ribeira of Porto, passing through the iconic Luis I Bridge.
Actually, you might be surprised to discover that this opposite shore is… another town. It’s Vila Nova de Gaia (or shortly: Gaia) – and that’s where most of port cellars are situated.
Which are the Best Wine Cellars in Porto?
There are dozens of wine companies in the area, so you need to choose well. Pay attention to choose the ones that offer visits to the cellars and wine tasting, and not only tasting without any visit!
We recommend the following 5 Best Wine Cellars in Porto and Gaia:
1. Real Companhia Velha – Port Wine Cellars
With over 270 years of history, Real Companhia Velha (Old Royal Company) is the oldest port wine producer still existing. The Company was founded in 1756 by the King D. José I and Prime Minister – Marquês de Pombal.
The proud history of this winery is well visible in the elegant historic buildings it occupies. During the visit, you can expect an introduction, a film presenting the pictoresque vineyards of the Company in the Douro Valley (we visited them, too) and a thorough explanation of the port wine characteristics. During the guided tour you can admire excellent cellars with enormous tanks and rows of barrels. Knowledgeable guides give explanation in several languages. The visit is crowned by the degustation of white and ruby port wines.
2. Cálem – Port Wine Cellars
Historic Cálem cellars are among the most visited port wine cellars. That’s because they offer a very professional and greatly organized visit. The full visit includes the interactive museum of port wine, a guided tour to their historic wine cellars, available in several languages. The tasting counts as much as 5 wines, including 3 premium ports of the company.
There is also an option of degustation including wine & food pairing, with cheese and chocolate tasting.
The unique experience that only Cálem offers is the combination of the wine cellar with the concert of traditional Portuguese fado music – you can check the tickets here.
3. Ferreira – Port Wine Cellars
Ferreira port wine cellars are also a great option. Ferreira company, established in 1751, is the only producer of port wine that has remained of the Portuguese ownership throughout its entire history. The interesting part is that its most famous owner was – unlike in the other wineries – a woman, Dona Antonia Adelaide Ferreira, who left quite a mark in the history of the Douro Region in the 19th century. Discover her intriguing story durind the visit.
You can choose among several different tours, including the visit to the historic cellars and various types of wine to try.
4. Graham’s Lodge
Renowned Graham’s port wine belongs to the Symington group wineries. These are premium wineries and estates owned by the Symington family in the Douro Valley and Gaia near Porto.
What makes the historic Graham’s Lodge special is its fantastic location with great view over the Douro River, Gaia and Porto. Graham’s offers luxury tastings with, as they describe themselves, “the feel of a fine private club”. Visits are possible only upon reservation:
5. Espaço Porto Cruz – Port Wine Centre
Espaço Porto Cruz is a different experience than the port wine cellars. This ultra-modern centre combines expositions, virtual reality winery tour, art and fashion shop, and a restaurant and wine bar with absolutely breathtaking view! In other words, it is a cultural and artistic centre focusing on port wine. Cool, isn’t it?
Porto Cruz is one of the most world-known producers of port wine. It offers also tours to its great cellars. It is a truly 360 degrees port wine experience!
What to Expect in the Best Wine Cellars in Porto?
The most renowned producers of port wine will greet you with a presentation, explaining what is port wine, which varieties it has, how to choose it, what is the production process etc. They will take you to a guided tour in their cellars, giving you interesting information on the tanks, barrels and wine maturing process. And then, they will invite you for a tasting of selected types of port wine, to give you a good basis for your further discoveries.
You will have a possibility to seek advice to buy the most interesting or particular types of wine directly from the producer.
Where to Try Port Wine Apart From the Cellars?
Apart from the cellars, in Porto you will have plenty of options to try porto wine. Head to the Ribeira district and check out the local restaurants and wine bars. Or go on the opposite side of Douro River to Gaia and choose one of the bars there, with the charming view of Porto.
To get an even better understanding of port wine, choose a port wine tasting tour here.
What is Special about Port Wine?
Port wine – porto – is fortified wine, produced by an addition of aguardiente (distilled grape spirit) after just a day or a few days after starting the fermentation of wine. This recipe preserves the natural sweetness of grapes that other wines lose during the fermentation process. The result is a strong, sweet wine with very rich, seductive aroma (about 20% of alcohol).
Port wine was discovered by the British wine merchants in the 17th century: trying to preserve the wines from the Douro region for longer for their shipment to the United Kingdom, they experimented adding brandy to wine. The result turned out to be so spectacular, that they started to seek the best recipe, and so port wine was created. The great success of port wine in Britain brought upon the fortune and fame of this wine, nowadays known and popular worldwide.
Check tours with professional local guides, who will reveal for you the secrets of this excellent spirit – see the numerous options here.
There are many organized tours to visit the spectacular Douro Valley from Porto on a half-day or day trip. It’s a great opportunity to discover more about the port wine, and also to spend an idyllic day in the countryside. Check here the tour by car or cruises along the river.
Read more in our article on the Douro Valley vineyards: