In the morning we set sail down river passing the deepest lock in Europe called the Carrapatelo Lock with a height of 115 feet. The voyage along the Douro in this area is more developed than the area further east and the terrain has changed. Where there were grape vines and olive trees there is now much more wild vegetation, steeper hillsides and the river is much narrower in some places. The day is filled with rain showers but the scenery is still beautiful.
While we were sailing, Patricia, the cruise director presented a brief history of Portugal so that we could better understand the culture of the country. She discussed how the country came to be and how the borders have changed over time. Portugal only has one neighbor, Spain, although they were great explorers around the world and have had many other colonies over the years. They controlled Macau until they gave the land to China and they controlled Timor in Africa which is now an independent nation. They still control Madeira and the Azores in the Atlantic.
After lunch onboard, we docked at the town of Entre-os-Rios or “in between the rivers” at the confluence of the Tamega and Douro Rivers. The small town was a tragic spot in March of 2001when the Hintze Ribeiro Bridge collapsed after flooding of the river and a strong current. The collapse caused the death of 59 people. Since then a new bridge called the Duarte Pacheco bridge was built reconnecting the town of Torrao to Entre-os-Rios.
We took a 30-minute ride to the Aveleda Winery for a tasting of Vinho Verde. The name Vinho Verde translates into green wine but can also be translated as young wine. These young wines can be released three to six months after the grapes are harvested. The wines are reds, whites and rose and can be consumed shortly after bottling. Vinho Verde also has a popular sparkling version. This area has as many as 20,000 small grape growers.
The grounds at the Aveleda winery were very beautiful with vast gardens that have been in the family for some 300 years and they have produced wines for 150 years. The family would collect plants from around the world over the years and bring them home to plant in the garden. They even have a couple of California Sequoia trees. We saw a lake and the tea house where the ladies would go to drink wine under the guise of having tea as it was more acceptable at the time.
After the tour of the gardens and the brandy cellar we were treated to a wine tasting in a very modern tasting room large enough to seat more than 100 people. We tasted two white wines, one a bit more acidic and the other sweeter. They also served up some cheese and crackers. Everywhere we go we are given wine, wine and more wine. It matters not what time of day it is.
On this night they had the Captain’s farewell party as we will arrive the next day in Porto and people will have time to explore on their own. The dinner was a five-course dinner with an appetizer, soup, hot appetizer, entrée and baked Alaska for dessert. After dinner, a local trio came onboard to perform favorites from the ‘60’s, ‘70’s and ‘80’s. The captain joined the fun and danced with many of the women.