Quinta do Seixo

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    • Day 8

      The Birthplace of Port

      June 22, 2023 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 84 °F

      The scenery on bus trip up to Sandeman winery was spectacular. We rode switchbacks along roads so narrow that one could not see the edge. All we could see was the valley 2000 feet below us. The vistas of distant towns and mountains stretched for miles. When we finally reached Quinta do Seixo we were led into a state of the art winery. A guide explained to us how the grapes are grown and pressed. Pressing, now mostly done with machinery, was previously done with human feet. Even now occasionally humans crush the grapes by foot. This method has two advantages. First, feet crush the grapes releasing the juice, but feet are too soft to break the grape seeds inside the fruit. If broken, the seeds impart an undesirable bitterness to the wine. Secondly, the heat from human feet jumpstarts the formation of yeast. Production of the most expensive wines still begin with the ancient method. Experts then age the grapes, either in oak barrels, or stainless steel vats to give the wine the precise character the winemaker desires. Descending a long stairway, we arrived at the wine tasting room. There we tasted a white port, and also a red, wines that sell in the United States for as much as $200 per bottle. Some of these terraces were actually made by the Romans, who settled here in the time of Christ. Thousands of rows of vines, extending up a 2,000 foot high mountain, were cut by hand. These plants extend roots deep into the rocky hillside, and many vines are centuries old.

      Generations past had to endure grinding poverty and mortal danger to transport their wine down this wild river to Porto. Their arduous journey on this river before a series of dams tamed it can be seen in this clip.


      What an honor it was to taste some of the best wines in the world! I will be sure to find a bottle of Sandeman port when we return home.
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    Quinta do Seixo

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