Our morning started with a tour of the Quinta da Roeda winery in Pinhao where they make Croft branded port wine. The Croft family history with the Portuguese port business dates back to the 1707 when the two Irish brothers moved to Portugal and began trading port wine. This estate was acquired by the family in 1889. We had a guided tour of the concrete vats where the grapes are still stomped by foot before being put into stainless steel or wooden barrels depending on the type of port wine they are making. We then moved out to the vineyards where we learned about the soil in the area, the use of olive trees to help with erosion and the fact that grape vines can produce grapes for up to 130 years.
We then were taken into a modern, spacious tasting room with large tables with chairs that can seat about 12 people each where we tasted two of their port wines. We tasted a rose-colored port wine and a dark red port wine. The rose colored one, while being very sweet, was much smoother while the darker port was much stronger and less sweet tasting.
Outside of the winery they have a display of an insect motel where insects can make their homes. Insects are an important part of the agricultural process but the use of chemicals often kills the needed insects. These motels allow the insects to find a home away from the pesticides and hopefully thrive.
After the winery tour we were taken back to our vessel where we set sail down the Douro to the town of Lamego. We had a large buffet lunch with a served entrée of either a white fish or turkey legs. On the way to Lamego we passed through the Baguaste Lock with a height of 91 feet. At the Lamego pier we refueled the ship before moving to the other side of the river in the town of Regua.
In the afternoon we visited the beautiful and historic town of Lamego with a population of about 25,000 people. The quaint town is filled with terra-cotta rooftops and tree lined streets. We first visited the Santuario de Nossa Senhoura dos Remedios or Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies. The church sits on a hilltop high above the city with wonderful views. The church is very ornate with a gilded altar, many side altars and blue and white ceramic tiles on the walls depicting biblical stories. The ceiling was painted with a beautiful shade of blue and white. From the hilltop location of the church, we began our descent of a 686-step staircase to admire the picturesque gardens, monuments, terraces, fountains and ornate tile mosaics surrounding the stairs.
After the tour of the church we had some free time in the town center to shop, visit another church or rest in a café or bakery. The town is very clean with cobblestone sidewalks and narrow roads. The few shops that were open were very nice although many of the shops were not open. We returned to the ship about 5:30pm for a short rest before having a traditional Portuguese dinner in the dining room.
After dinner we visited the Museu do Douro in Regua for a lecture and wine tasting to learn about the Douro River port wine making process. A young man who works at the museum gave a 30-minute lecture with an audiovisual presentation. His command of the English language was very good except that he spoke very fast. We then tasted a 10-year old port from the area but it was not to my liking.
Regua is a small town with a population of about 10,000 inhabitants and is famous for its Port Wine. The main street runs along the waterfront and is filled with small shops, cafes and restaurants. There were several river boats in port but there is a lot of dock space for the vessels to dock.