Grape Harvest in the Douro Valley
The Douro Valley is the oldest demarcated wine region in the world and offers such beauty that is able to amaze even the most demanding and hard to impress visitors. Its stunning landscapes are mesmerizing throughout the entire year, but during the harvest season it becomes alive and is almost like an enchanted valley.
The harvest is one of the oldest wine activities in Portugal and certainly one of the most genuine and traditional ones. The vineyards, that spend most of the year empty, come alive: full of grapes ready to be harvested, workers ready to pick and anticipation for the stomping of the grapes, a process that will transform the grapes into great Port and Douro wines. During this season, the aroma of graphs spreads through the valley, dazzling colors take over the landscape and the Douro seethes. The harvest season has arrived.
The Douro Valley harvest season is a cheerful time and you can feel it in the atmosphere, after all, the Wineries/Quintas finally get to collect the result of a long year of work and waiting. Despite the good mood, the harvest process involves a lot of long hours to reach the final result, the wines.
There is no fixed date for the Douro harvest season to start but it usually happens in the second half of September, it depends on the weather conditions throughout the year and how the vineyards have reacted to it.
There are many activities available only during this season. You can participate in the harvest with the locals, help to produce wine from the grapes by stomping away, and some wineries even allow you to take home with you the “fruits” of your labor. Can you imagine sharing a bottle of wine you produced with your friends?
What is so special about the Douro Harvest Season?
As you know, it all starts with the picking of the grapes by hand. Keep in mind that there aren’t any machines helping in this part, it is all manual work. Grapes are literally hand-picked, with the help of scissors, of course, and the boxes are carried by workers on their back.
The grapes are then taken and poured into large stone tanks/lagares and stomped by a group of workers to squash them and squeeze the liquid out from the skin. This happens to the sound of someone marking the rhythm with a song, so workers while embracing each other, can stomp in a synchronized and more effective way. After this, the grapes pulp are left to ferment and what happens next is kind of a secret because each winery has its own “recipe” to produce their unique wines.
How can you experience the harvest season?
There are a number of wineries with special harvest programs. Two of the best wineries in the Douro region are Quinta do Popa and Quinta das Carvalhas, which we mention on our One Day Trip To Douro article, and both offer harvest experiences to visitors. These experiences usually include a visit to the farm, including the vineyards and wine production facilities, grape picking, lunch, with plenty of traditional gastronomy and local wines, grape stomping, and wine tasting, to end a great day in the best possible way.
Here’s a sample of a harvest experience our team enjoyed during the last Douro harvest season.
This is definitely one of the best day trips to the Douro you can plan if you’re visiting Porto, or any other surrounding region!