Douro Wines & Wine Regions

Prepping for our Douro River Cruise through wine, cuisine, culture & history with Peter & Betsy Spann
August 20-27, 2022
For full information, pricing and registration click here For full itinerary click here
The river starts as the Duero in north central Spain and runs westward through the Ribera del Duero wine region, one of the two best in Spain. As it crosses the border into Portugal the name changes to the Douro.
It empties into the Atlantic Ocean just west of the city of Porto. Port wine takes it’s name from this city. We'll depart from Vila Nova da Gaia, the city directly across the river from Porto, then sail upriver to Vega de Terron at the Spanish border and back, visiting sites and toasting the vineyards as we go.
Temperature & Rainfall Effect On The Wines
The dark blue area, closest to the ocean, is the most cool and moist, making it great for crisp white wines. This is the Minho D.O. (Denominação de Origem) who's wines are labeled "Vinho Verde" (green or verdant wine). It's separated from the Douro D.O. (lighter blue) by a mountain range that keeps cool air and moisture in the west.
The Douro D.O. is separated into 3 parts, based on their individual climatic conditions and topography which influence the styles of wine and Port made. Baixo Corgo (Baixo means "low" so this is below where the Corgo River empties into the Douro), also called the Lower Douro, is the wettest and least mountainous of the three. Its' 35"/year average annual rainfall is similar to Sonoma County (40"/year). This is where the lightest, simplest, earliest maturing and typically least expensive wines and Ports are produced ($7 to $25/bottle).

The Cima (meaning "above the") Corgo, also called the Upper Douro, is very dry and hilly, so the stressed vines produce more intensely flavored wines and the majority of the richest flavored of the Ports, the Vintage and Late Bottled Vintage Ports ($25 to $100/bottle).

The Douro Superior is the newest region, quite arid with steep mountains, where the most intensely flavored wines and Ports are made (typically $40 to $150/bottle). It's also the least planted, developed and populated due to difficulty in terrain and transportation, but where the most vineyard expansion is taking place as Douro red wines are increasing in recognition and prestige throughout the world. Sailing through this region rewards us with incredibly peaceful, unspoiled and beautiful landscapes.
Here's a link to a great article from The Wine Enthusiast on the Douro Superior:
GRAPE VARIETIES: There are a little over 100 native red grape varieties grown in the Douro plus one non-native red, Tinta Roriz (called Tempranillo in Spain) and 5 native white ones.

The 6 most planted and important red ones are Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Amarela and Tinta Cao. Tinta is Portuguese for "red". 90% of the wines made are blends. Traditions die hard in Portugal and single varietal wines didn't appear until 25 or so years ago. Table wines and Ports are made with the same grape varieties, simply using different production methods.
Between 1756 and 1990 approximately 95% of all wine sold from the Douro D.O. was Port. Dry wines are now 40% of total production and fortified Port is 60%. Most table wines are dry reds. Dry white, rose and sparkling wines make up just 10% of production. And yes, they sanitize their feet and legs before they start foot treading.
During all on-board meals on our cruise, wines from Vinho Verde and the Douro and beers of Portugal will be served with meals at no extra charge. Daily land excursions and nightly entertainment are also included in the cruise price. Our cruise provider, Amawaterways, prides itself in having the finest cuisine and service on the water.

Special wine tastings and wine dinners comparing Douro and Sonoma County wines, exclusive to our group, are included. You must book through our tour operator Expanding Horizons of Tustin, CA to be part of the Spann Douro Group. For full information, pricing and registration click here For full itinerary click here
Questions? email Ruth Jelsma at Expanding-Horizons or call her at (714) 975-9946‬.
Know anyone else who might be interested? Please forward this to them.
Betsy became interested in wine when her family moved to Bordeaux during her last year in high school. Since then she's owned two retail wine stores, worked for wine and beer importers, been a wine educator for almost 40 years, started one of the first chapters of Women On Wine, made wine at two Sonoma County wineries and one in South Africa.

Peter started recommending wines in French restaurants when he was 19 and now has 51 years of experience in all phases of the business; wine retail, wholesale, importing, production and marketing and has taught wine appreciation at colleges and universities. He first became involved with wines from Portugal in 1975 and spent 7 years as C.O.O. of a U.S. importing company specializing in Portuguese wines.

Together they made wine at Spann Vineyards for 20 years.
This series of emails is designed to enhance your cruise experience. Betsy and I have been wine educators for several decades and want to pass our knowledge on to you. The more you know about this region before you arrive, the more you'll enjoy it when you're there. Cheers! -Peter Spann
QUESTIONS for Peter Spann? call 415-215-9540 or click to email.
SPANN VINEYARDS, 8910 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, CA 95452 707-282-9143