“What time will we start drinking?”, asked mostly out of fear. I will get to the answer later but my British friend David Kell, who has a strict not before 5pm rule, would not approve…
The Douro Valley, origination point of the wine we had been enjoying in Porto, has been on our list from before Olivia was born. There wasn’t a question if we were going, only for how long and how we were going to get there. With Olivia, our two year old, we were not sure if the travel time would be too long for a day trip. Would there be anything for her to do if we stayed for a few nights? Once we decided on a day trip the next question was tour group or self guided? After adding up all the expenses, the hassle of taking the train, and finding a taxi to every vineyard we decided on booking a tour. Based mostly on the fact that the self guided savings seemed to be minimal and the early morning train coupled with a late return was far from ideal. Turns out we made the right decision.
We booked with Oporto Road Trips, booking direct with the tour company saves you $10 the perfect amount to buy more Port wine. We received 2 tasting at different vineyards, stops for some very scenic pictures, a 45 min boat ride on the Douro River, and lunch. This tour group was the only one we could find that did not have an added charge for Olivia. Free of charge she was still given a meal at lunch, a car seat in the Mercedes Sprinter, and non alcoholic beverages at the vineyards. The convenience of being picked up and dropped off from the hotel was very appreciated.
The vineyards all gave more than enough wine and Port to experience a solid level of day drinking without being neglectful parents. The first vineyard, Quinta Do Beijo, gave us an in-depth tour of the property and process for making wine and Port. We were lucky enough to be there during harvest time and saw full exposed vats of crushed grapes. As a “thank you” for visiting, guests are given a taste of a Port wine straight from the barrel. This white port is so old that the tour guide struggled to figure a price if it was sold by the bottle, its not. After our tastings we were off again in the sprinter van.
At this point we were asking ourselves when lunch would be. Turns out we still had picture time, boat cruise, and a quick stop at an old train station before any food is offered. I highly recommend taking a light meal with you and eating breakfast. For your child there is little to no opportunity to buy food so bring enough for most of the day.
The best time for trying to put your little one down for a nap was the rabelo cruise. For nap time we put Olivia in the Lille Complete and she was out before we boarded the small wooden boat. My one disapointment is that the cruise would have been a perfect time to sip on some Port now that Olivia was asleep. Tip, stash someting to drink or eat for the boat ride. There are no easy oportunities to buy anything before the cruise so this takes some day before planing.
We did not bring a stroller but it seemed one would be useless and hard to maneuver in many of the toured areas. There was not a huge amount of walking but there were a few stairs.
… 9:45am, that’s the time we had our first drink. Bring some food and prepare to take some incredible pictures of one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world.