Walking through the vineyards at Fonseca in Portugal

Douro Valley Wine Tour: Honest Review of Douro Exclusive 

Last updated Sep 26, 2022 | Food & Wine, Portugal

We love wine. We love travel. Our trips now seem to gravitate towards incredible wine destinations. Douro Valley in Portugal was one of them. With its mesmerizing steeply terraced vineyards, scenic windy roads, and a meandering river, Douro Valley is a do-not-miss attraction! In order to visit several of Portugal’s wineries in one day, I would strongly suggest booking a Douro Valley wine tour. That way you can enjoy the lovely wine without worrying about driving. 

We chose Douro Exclusive. Here’s why and what to expect from their tour. 

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Why We Chose Douro Exclusive 

#1 FAMILY RUN + AMAZING STAFF 

There are several wine tour companies to choose from, but for us there is one that stood out from the rest. Douro Exclusive is run by locals Ana and Marco, the sweetest husband and wife team. They also have outstanding staff including Sandra, who was our wine tour guide. 

There are some tours you go on where the service feels forced. Not Douro Exclusive! The whole team is sincerely genuine and goes above and beyond your expectations. All team members have received the WSET (Wine Spirit and Education Trust) Level 2 Award in wines. 

Sandra expertly led us around all the wineries and was very knowledgeable in answering any questions we had. We never felt rushed and really felt like we were hanging out with a good friend who happened to know a lot about wine. 

#2 NEAR PERFECT REVIEWS

Of course, I always have to check the reviews. 5 on TripAdvisor and 4.9 on Google Reviews. You can’t get much better than that! 

#3 PICKUP IN PORTO OR DOURO VALLEY

There are a lot of Douro Valley Wine Tours that are marketed as day tours to and from Porto. That is a long day! 

After traveling around the world and staying in Franschhoek in South Africa, Goriska Brda in Slovenia, and Willamette Valley in Oregon, we now love planning multi-days in wine destinations. 

I strongly recommend staying in Douro Valley for several days. Although they do make the long drive back and forth from Porto, Douro Exclusive also offers pick up and drop off in Douro Valley. 

Would you rather be transported 1 hr. 20 min. – 1 hr. 45 min. each way from Porto? Or would you rather stay in Douro Valley, sleep in, and be at your first winery in 20 minutes? Hmmm … 

A Douro Valley Wine Tour Map

Douro Valley wine tour map

#4 CASA DO ARCO 

This brings me to my fourth reason for choosing Douro Exclusive. They own Casa do Arco, which is an incredible 3-bedroom boutique hotel perched on a hill right in the heart of wine country. 

Casa do Arco in Douro Valley Portugal

Casa do Arco in Douro Valley, Portugal

We stayed there two nights. Douro Exclusive picked us up and dropped us off at the hotel, and we had a lovely dry-aged steak dinner after our wine tour. 

Our Douro Valley Wine Tour Itinerary 

9:30 AM: BREAKFAST AT CASA DO ARCO

My husband and I were able to sleep in and have a lovely breakfast at Casa do Arco before our wine tour. Breakfast included croissants, homemade bread, cheese, charcuterie, fresh fruit, and yogurt and granola. 

Eating breakfast before a wine tour is essential! 

Breakfast at Casa do Arco in Portugal

Breakfast at Casa do Arco in Portugal

11AM: WINE TASTING AT FONSECA 

Sandra picked us up promptly at 10:30 AM, and we were off to the first wine tasting of the day at Fonseca. She stopped at the vineyard right before we entered the property and showed us all the common Portuguese varietals such as Touriga Nacional. 

Vineyard walking at Fonseca in Portugal

Vineyard walking at Fonseca in Portugal

Portuguese varietals

Portuguese varietals

You can experience Fonseca wine in Vila Nova de Gaia or at Quinta do Panascal in Douro Valley, which is what we did. Fonseca is well known in the wine world for its highly acclaimed vintage ports. Before our tasting, we walked around the grounds and saw the “lagares,” which are granite tanks used for fermentation. The workers will tread the grapes by foot for hours at a time during harvest season. 

Granite lagares at Fonseca in Portugal

Granite lagares at Fonseca in Portugal

If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend watching A Year in Port on Amazon prime. It’s a great documentary on the complexities of making port in the Douro Valley in Portugal.

We enjoyed two lovely glasses of a ruby port and tawny sitting outdoors on the patio. 

Fonseca wine tasting in Portugal

Fonseca wine tasting in Portugal

The scenery is stunning. As far as the eye can see, you see one steeply terraced vineyard after another hugging the Douro River. 

Steeply terraced vineyards in Douro Valley in Portugal

Steeply terraced vineyards in Douro Valley in Portugal

1PM: DOURO RIVER CRUISE + SPECIAL SURPRISE 

After our wine tasting, Sandra drove us over to the town of Pinhão for a cruise down the Douro River. The cruise was a fun way to see all the vineyards on the banks of the river. 

Douro River cruise in Portugal

Sitting in a boat on a Douro River cruise in Portugal

We happened to go on a day when the weather was perfect. Sunny, warm but not hot, and super clear skies. While we were enjoying our time on the water, Sandra surprised us with a tasting of a delicious tawny made by one of the staff’s family members. Obrigada! 

Sipping on a special Douro Exclusive tawny on a Douro River cruise in Portugal

Sipping on a special Douro Exclusive tawny on a Douro River cruise in Portugal

2:30 PM: LUNCH AT TOCA DA RAPOSA RESTAURANT + WINE PAIRINGS 

All that wine tasting certainly worked up an appetite. We had a fantastic meal at a local restaurant, Toca da Raposa, which serves authentic Portuguese cuisine. 

The waiter will ask what your food preferences are and will go as adventurous as you like. For example, we tried the potatoes and wild boar, which was surprisingly not gamey. The Portuguese love their potatoes, and they do them extremely well. 

Wild boar and potatoes at Toca da Raposa in Portugal

Wild boar and potatoes at Toca da Raposa in Portugal

We also had some local sausages, soup, and bacalhau na broa (cod in bread), and a delicious dessert sampler. All of these traditional dishes were paired with DOC Douro Wines.

Bacalhau na broa at Toca da Raposa in Portugal

Bacalhau na broa at Toca da Raposa in Portugal

The restaurant is run by a husband and wife team. The wife cooks in the back, and the husband works the front of the house. The service was incredibly warm and inviting. A great local find. 

DON”T MISS: Toca da Raposa makes their own homemade jams, which are served at breakfast at Casa do Arco with your freshly baked bread. We had the orange jam, which was bursting with a delicious citrus flavor. We loved it so much that we bought a jar to take back home with us. 

Homemade jam from Toca da Raposa in Portugal

Homemade jam from Toca da Raposa in Portugal

5PM: WINE TASTING AT QUINTA DO CUME

Our last wine tasting of the day was at Quinta do Cume. Quinta do Cume is a passion project started by surgeon, Jorge Tenreiro. He sought out specific soil content, water proximity, and the right altitude in order to create his unique high-quality wines specific to the terroir. 

Quinta do Cume in Douro Valley Portugal

Quinta do Cume in Douro Valley Portugal

We had a personal tour of the property by one of the staff members who was working towards taking over the winemaking in the future. After our informative tour, we were brought outdoors where our wine tasting arrangements were all set up. 

Enjoying a wine tasting outdoors at Quinta do Cume in Portugal

Enjoying a wine tasting outdoors at Quinta do Cume in Portugal

My husband and I were led through a lovely tasting of their DOC Douro reds and whites as we snacked on some fresh homemade bread and their own olive oil. We particularly enjoyed and purchased their Touriga Nacional, Grande Reserva, and the Vintage Port 2019. 

Great experience! 

Quinta do Cume wines

Quinta do Cume wines

Douro Valley Wine Tour Cost 

Douro Exclusive offers two wine tour options: Back to the Douro Roots and the Immersive Douro Experience. 

We joined the Back to the Douro Roots wine tour, which was 210€ per person for the small group tour. 

FOODIE TIP: The Immersive Douro Experience takes you to DOC for lunch, which is a restaurant run by the Michelin-starred Chef Rui Paula. We didn’t dine at DOC but instead got to experience his amazing seafood dishes at his 2-star Michelin restaurant Casa de Chá da Boa Nova when we were in Porto. Casa de Chá da Boa Nova has probably one of the most beautiful restaurant settings I have ever been to. It’s perched on the rocks seaside. If you are lucky enough to snag a reservation at the right time, you can witness a spectacular sunset as you savor each bite of your elegantly presented tasting menu. 

Dining alfresco at Casa de Chá da Boa Nova in Portugal

Dining alfresco at Casa de Chá da Boa Nova in Portugal

Final Thoughts 

If you want to experience some of the best wineries Douro Valley has to offer with an incredibly knowledgeable guide who will feel like a friend at the end, then book your wine tour with Douro Exclusive. 

Although they do offer pickup/drop off from Porto, I strongly suggest spending several nights out in Douro Valley at their boutique hotel, Casa do Arco. Immerse yourself in the beauty of Portugal’s wine country and get ready to be in full relaxation mode. Saude!

Outside at Fonseca Winery in Portugal

Outside at Fonseca Winery in Portugal

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Questions on how to plan your Douro Valley winery tour?

Let me know in the comments below!

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