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Portugal has been producing wine for centuries yet still remains somewhat under the radar in terms of world recognition. Early cultivation of grapes began in the southern regions of the nation and slowly expanded north on account of the Greeks and Romans. Centuries later, Portugal signed a treaty with England which opened the door to more exports of Portuguese wines to England. During this time the process of making fortified wines and Port were discovered and quickly rose in popularity. The high demand for Port throughout the following centuries lead to the creation of the Douro Wine Company in the late 1700’s to assist with the regulations and exportation of Port. This would put the Douro wine region in Northern Portugal on the map and is known as the one of the oldest established appellations in the world.

Portugal’s entry into the EU in 1986 changed their wine industry drastically due to government subsidies given out in order to upgrade and enhance vineyards and nearly all aspects of winemaking within the country. With these improvements also came Portugal’s upgrade of their official Denominação de Origem Controlada (D.O.C), a system which has similar regulations as its neighboring nations such as France and Spain to maintain high quality and high standards for winemaking. Interestingly, because of the early laws surrounding the exportation of Port, Portugal’s initial D.O.C. can be placed almost two hundred years before it’s introduction in France.

Today, Portugal has a total of 14 wine regions and is full of small vineyards and wineries known as quintas. Two of these regions, Pico Island and Douro Valley, are now protected World Heritage sites declared by UNESCO for their significance to the area. Other major wine regions in Portugal are: Vinho Verde, Beira Interior and Dao in the north, Alentejo, Ribatejo and Encostas de Aire located centrally, and Lagos and Tavira in the south. Each of these regions has a unique climate and geography which allows for a multitude of grape varietals to be grown. As it stands, there are over 200 native Portuguese varietals - more than any other wine growing nation! The most popular white varietals grown are: Alvarinho, Antão Vaz, Arinto, Fernão Pires, Loureiro, Perrum, and Verdelho. Common red varietals include: Alfrocheiro, Aragonez, Baga, Touriga Francesa, Touriga Nacional and Trincadeira Preta.

Portugal has been featured in our International Wine Club, giving our customers an opportunity to taste some of these remarkable wines from a few of its top ‘quintas' (boutique wineries) throughout the country. Those who add our Adventure Package have the unique opportunity to taste authentic, gourmet foods from artisan producers from the same country as the wines.