I have said it before, and I am sure that I will say it many times more, the Douro wine region in Portugal is one of the most breathtaking in the world.
We had the good fortune to attend a harvest day at Quinta do Tedo this past September. And it was no end of fun. It also showed us how much work goes into harvesting grapes and making wine.
My hat is off to the owners, Vincent and Kay Bouchard because the amount of work required to make a good bottle of wine is staggering. Not to mention the manpower that is necessary to hand-pick fruit and process it. Much less running a successful Quinta with accommodations and a restaurant. Whew! Makes me tired just thinking about it.
Before going out into the vineyard to pick grapes, we were treated to a breakfast of hearty soup and pataniscas, which are cod fritters.
After this fortifying snack, we were armed with clippers and a bucket and went out into the vineyard. We picked grapes for about half an hour. And let me tell you, I would not want to have to do it all day. This is back-breaking labor.
After emptying our grape buckets, we walked back to the winery for a light lunch. A Feast is a more apt description. The table was a groaning board of Portuguese delicacies. Holy mother of yum! And all accompanied by the house red wine. Delicious.
After lunch, we went to the lagares, large stone vats, to stomp the grapes we had just picked. Again, it was fun for about an hour. We did get to sample some port wine while we were at it, which helped. Portugal is one of the only countries that still use foot treading to crush the grapes.
Workers typically stomp the grapes for about four hours at a time. Oy!
After giving the grapes a good stomp, we took our newly purple feet back to the tasting room to sample more port wines. Divine is what they were. Ruby, Tawny, and Vintage, oh my! Port wine is a deep subject and one of the great Portuguese gifts to the world. The wines from Portugal are diverse and outstanding, as is the food. And after spending the better part of a day helping with the harvest, I appreciate them even more.
Thanks again to the Bouchards and their staff for a memorable and delectable experience.