Demarcated in 1756, the Douro is one of the world’s oldest wine regions and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the human influence on its development. More than 2,000 years of wine making have shaped it into a terraced, vine-covered, wine-producing destination.
Wine has been produced by traditional landholders in the Douro region for about 2,000 years. Since the 18th century, its main product, Port wine, has been world famous for its quality. This long tradition of viticulture has produced a cultural landscape of outstanding beauty that reflects its technological, social and economic evolution.
In the Upper Douro Valley (Alto Douro), the spectacular terraces are cut into the valley sides to house the vineyards and they restructure the landscape that borders the clear waters below. The water reflects the vast lines of grape vines that change color over the seasons, from green to golden browns, orange and reds. The deep purple, white, green or red grapes are hidden between the leaves.
These full and colorful bunches are fit for any dining table, although the majority will be reserved for the production of wine.
The beautifully unique landscape of the Douro was one of the reasons that made it a World Heritage site in 2001. One of the criteria on which UNESCO based this decision was the importance of the human hand in the shaping of the landscape, using traditional methods and transforming it from a sterile land.
“The cultural landscape of the Alto Douro is an outstanding example of a traditional European wine-producing region, reflecting the evolution of this human activity over time.” Another criterion was that the “cultural landscape of the Alto Douro is an outstanding example of a traditional European wine producing region, reflecting the evolution of this human activity over time”. Unesco also highlights the traces of the remaining or extinct civilizations, many of which were wine producers, such as the Romans that left behind remains of their stone tanks (lagares).
The Douro landscape reflects its ancient and deep connection with the wine culture, creating an amazing picture of Man and Nature working side by side in search of the perfect wine.