Sometimes the best travel experiences come from last minute decisions. After having spent the whole day touring, driving and having a wonderful lunch in Portugal’s spectacular Douro wine valley. We had tasted and savored wine and port to our heart’s content, so much so that it seemed best to be getting back to the city with a long, winding drive ahead. Just outside of the town of Alijo I recalled we hadn’t stopped by one of the most iconic Port vineyards of all: Dow’s!
With the cell phone nearly dead we turned around and asked for directions the good old fashioned way. A combination of signs and friendly strangers pointed out the way and within ten minutes we we catching the final open hour of the day at Quinta do Bomfim, perfect timing.
Taste is of course a personal thing, but while every Port has its uniqueness, Dow’s has legendary status in the region both for the quality of its vineyards and its vision for production. The vineyard has excellent guest facilities around its centuries old buildings that have been used for the harvesting and processing of the grapes.
Since space is at a premium along this river valley, parking is limited, but we were fortunate to find a spot. There is a brief museum when you first enter the compound that is dedicated to the visionary and hard working Symington Family, whose collection of estates covers several iconic brands including Dow’s and Graham’s. Moving through the beautiful stone paved corridors it is possible to look upwards at any given moment and see the rich, terraced hillsides where the grapes are grown.
There is a quaint tasting area for individuals as well as groups led by very knowledgeable staff. We were really impressed by the gift shop which has a plethora of rare releases, top rated vintages and again well informed staff who can answer questions, tell you about the philosophy of the brand. The prices were excellent and purchases of timeless bottles were made. Places like this bring a special experience to the wine tasting and collecting process because having experienced the place, met the minds behind it and witnessed the values on which its built, all of this goes into the eventual indulgence and enjoyment of these masterful creations!