Update January 1st, 2016: SOLD OUT!
On the evening of October 1st 2016, a small group of wine lovers will convene for a dinner in Lisbon, Portugal, to kick off what will be the top educational wine tour of Portugal you can possibly imagine.
Led by sommelier Jason Kallsen of Twin Cities Wine Education and Ryan Opaz of Catavino.net, this amazing journey will cover all the major regions of Portugal and give participants a lifetime of knowledge and memories while traveling in style and comfort.
Nine days, eight nights
Ten wineries plus two Port lodges
A boat ride down the Douro River, through the historic terraced vineyards
Wine bar visits and dinners in Lisbon and Porto
Four star accommodations
Hundreds of kilometers covered in a private coach
A private tour of the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto offices
Wine education at every stop (including deep discussions about the terroir throughout Portugal, the native grape varieties, the microclimates, and the history of the regions)
… And a suckling pig roast at a countryside winery.
This will be one of the best trips of your life.
A few of the highlights and details about this journey:
- Four star accommodations.
- Incredible meals, from the rustic in the countryside to the elegant and upper end in the cities. Emphasis will be on the local cuisine at every stop, giving you a true flavor of the land.
- Exploration and education in five major wine regions: Alentejo, Dão, Douro Valley (Port), Vinho Verde, and Bairrada (where we will enjoy a suckling pig roast at a winery).
- Meetings and tastings with many top winemakers and winery owners of Portugal to understand the terroir, geography, history, and context of the modern Portuguese wine industry.
- Two full days in the legendary and stunning Douro river valley, including a private boat cruise down the river for the perfect view of the historic terraced hillsides.
- Visit to the IVDP (the controlling board for Port) in the historic city of Porto, learning how important this key organization is to the quality levels of Port wine. This visit will be followed by visits to two Port lodges in Villa Nova de Gaia, followed of a seafood feast at one of the top restaurants in Porto.
- Wine education at every stop. Soil, climate, clones, varieties, fermentation science, and food and wine pairing at every turn.
- We will be accompanied during the entire trip by Ryan Opaz, native of Minnesota and resident of Portugal, who will be our communicator and translator for the journey. Ryan has been featured internationally for his wine and digital communication knowledge, and we will be lucky to have him with us.
- Time to explore Lisbon and Porto on your own, allowing you time to see historic sites or just kick back in a cafe. They take coffee and desserts very seriously in Portugal, as you will learn.
TRIP DETAILS – subject to minor changes (to make it even better!)
Day 1: Lisbon
Morning trip to Sintra (supplement – details to come … what is Sintra?)
Tasting at ViniPortugal, on the coast of the Tagus River. A kickoff tasting of wines at one of the coolest wine bar concepts around. This will be a great introduction to the week of wines, and a fine way to meet fellow travelers.
Welcome dinner at a local restaurant. We will gather for a feast to get supercharged for the week ahead. Small bites known as Petiscos, or as you might call them “tapas” will combine with a series of wines selected to welcome you to Portugal. This night will prepare you for the week ahead.
Meals included: Dinner
Day 2: Alentejo
We will start with breakfast in Lisbon before boarding our bus and heading into the bread basket of Portugal: the Alentejo, one of the key agricultural regions of Portugal. Passing by fields of wheat and cork trees, we will visit two top notch wineries to learn about the region and their native varieties.
This region is sparsely populated and rarely visited by Americans. You can look forward to getting a good sense of the countryside of Portugal while enjoying the local cuisine and wines. A great introduction to the week ahead.
In the centre of the picturesque town of Reguengos de Monsaraz, you will have the chance to visit one of the world’s most unusual wineries that still uses traditional winemaking techniques. You’ll then head to what can be described as a landscape typical of the Baixo Alentejo region, with gentle plains and shallow valleys boasting occasional streams, with the omnipresence of elements that define the montado (dehesa) – holm oaks, cistus and rosemary bushes, the meadows that change with the seasons and the river vegetation that varies between ashes and oleanders and open areas with willows and reeds.
After lunch in a winery, it is time to visit the institution Wines of Alentejo to have a tasting of the regions wines with a professional who regulates the industry. Dinner will be in a traditional tasquinha inside an old windmill turned tavern.
We will settle in for the night in the Alentejo to get ready for a big day of travel ahead on Day 3.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 3: Dão & Douro
After breakfast we will head north into the Dão, another region rarely visited by Americans, but a treasure trove of incredible wines and food. The Dão is a granite plateau surrounded by mountain ranges on three sides, making for a fascinating micro-climate. Most of the vineyards are planted on well drained sandy soil but with the granite floor not far underground. The result of the micro-climate and the soil conditions makes for a distinctive style of wine that we will enjoy in abundance.
The day includes a visit and a traditional caldo verde and arroz de pato lunch at one of the most exciting wineries in the region ahead of traveling to the eastern edge of the Douro Valley for dinner before checking into the hotel. Dinner will be at the hotel restaurant with a special guest to share their wines.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Days 4 and 5: Douro Valley
As one of the highlights of the trip, we will begin two full days in the Douro Valley, a UNESCO Heritage site of stunning beauty and history. During the first week of October we expect the harvest to be over, the fermentations underway, and the wineries to be a buzz of activity. The leaves on the vines will be in full autumn glory, and if the weather cooperates you will be able to take photos of astonishing impact. The wineries we will visit in the Douro will include both larger houses of historic importance and smaller producers that are under the radar.
Over these two days we will visit four wineries and taste a wide range of both dry and fortified wines, enjoy all meals in the valley, and get a sense of the topography and beauty of the region with a leisurely private boat cruise down the Douro River, enjoying the scenery with a glass of wine (or, by that time, maybe a beer) in hand. The best part is at the wineries we’ll be with the owners and winemakers getting a behind the scene look at the Douro valley, it’s wines and history.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6: Vinho Verde
A busy day with the departure from the Douro Valley and a visit to the (often misunderstood) region of Vinho Verde. The contrasts between the Douro and the Vinho Verde will become readily apparent, and after two days of tasting the fortified wines of the Douro you’ll enjoy the breath of fresh air of the bright wines of Vinho Verde.
Here we will visit two wineries and explore their unique vine trellising system, as well as tasting through a range of wines that will be eye-opening for us Americans (the wines of Vinho Verde are far more diverse and of higher quality than we are led to believe from what we can buy in America).
The first 34 hectare estate is beautifully situated on the border of the Minho and Douro, and is in the warmest part of the Vinho Verde region. Here we will get to see the contrast between two of Portugal’s most famous wine regions.
After lunch, time for another winery. Larger and more established the winery is surrounded by romantic gardens filled with history. We will get a chance to learn about the opposite end of the spectrum as we see that even large estates are often family run and making unique wines.
Following our day in Vinho Verde, we return to the modern world by landing in the city of Porto. The evening is yours to enjoy, exploring the city and having dinner on your own. Suggestions will be available from us for cool experiences in this awesome city, but you may want to follow my lead and just kick back on a sidewalk cafe and watch the world go by.
Meals included: Breakfast and Lunch
Day 7: Porto
Reflecting back on our time in the Douro Valley, we will come full circle with a day dedicated to Port production and the wines of the Douro Valley. We will begin with a visit to the IVDP (the Douro’s Port and Wine Institute), the controlling organization for all wines from the Douro Valley. During my trip in October of 2014, this was one my favorite visits. You will learn about the history of the region going back to the 1700’s, see the testing labs for the control board, and meet key figures in the port industry.
Following the education at the IVDP, we will cross the river into Vila Nova de Gaia and get tours and tastings at two contrasting port lodges, seeing their cellars and storage facilities, learning about the history of Port production (and their historic connection to England), and the range of styles of finished port that are produced.
Following a day of tasting port, we will be in the mood for fresh food and in Porto there is nothing better than a meal of caught-that-day seafood. We will enjoy a seafood feast of epic proportions at one of the top restaurants in Portugal, where your idea of just how good seafood can be will be redefined. I have ate at this restaurant once, and it was one of the highlights of the hedonistic life.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 8: Bairrada & Lisbon
For the final full day, we will depart Porto and visit Bairrada, one of the most historic wine regions in Portugal but off the radar for most American wine drinkers and tourists. This region, near the Atlantic Ocean, has been making top grade wines since the 10th century, and specializes in the production of sparkling wines made in the traditional (Champagne) method.
We will visit a local winery that has been producing wine since the eighteenth century and enjoy a traditional suckling pig lunch on the property. A fine way to enjoy the last afternoon together.
After lunch we’ll head south into Lisbon, check into our hotel and have some time to refresh before the ultimate farewell dinner. And by ultimate we mean an experience you will not believe. With impressive views over Lisbon, this restaurant and wine bar will be the perfect ending for your tour.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Day 9: Airport transfer and return home
Unless you have chosen to extend your trip, day 9 will be a group transfer (included in the tour) to the airport before catching flights back to the United States.
Included in the land-only price:
● Transport in private minibus throughout Portugal
● Meals as outlined above
● Arrival and Departure airport group transfers to and from hotel
● All hotels (based on double occupancy)
● Professionally printed hardcover photo book of trip (delivered within 8 weeks of returning)
● Airfare to Lisbon, Portugal
● Gratuity (will advise)
● Personal expenses
FIVE REASONS TO CONSIDER JOINING TWIN CITIES WINE’S ULTIMATE PORTUGAL WINE EDUCATION TOUR 2016
1) Strength of the dollar against the Euro.
See the graph below to understand the value of the dollar against the Euro at this moment. A tour such as this would have cost thousands of dollars more just a few short years ago. There hasn’t been a better time in almost twenty years to travel to Europe!
2) Small group tour with an educational focus.
The group will be capped at ten participants plus the guides (Ryan Opaz, Jason Kallsen, and Angela Kallsen). This size is perfect for wine touring, being large enough to have a great time but small enough to get into intimate restaurants and wineries. It’s small enough to make great new friends, but big enough to have your own personal space.
The goals of the trip are of course to have an amazing time, to enjoy incredible meals, and to develop a lifetime of memories. But as you can imagine, being organized by Twin Cities Wine Education we are also there to LEARN. Particular focus will be put on wine education during every step, helping you grow as a wine lover and understanding deeply the culture of wine in Portugal.
3) Some of the best food you can possibly imagine.
There will be fancy meals. There will be simple meals. There will be street food. There will be lots (and lots) (and lots) of delicious Portuguese coffee and pastries. I guarantee this will be one of the top gastronomic journeys you will ever experience.
4) Traveling with a local expert the whole way.
Ryan Opaz is a force of nature in the European wine community. Featured in Decanter magazine in 2011, he is one of the most sought after wine speakers and has travelled to almost every country in western Europe to judge, speak, present, or educate. We are lucky to be able to have him to ourselves for a week, and as a resident of Portugal he will guide us through communication and logistics.
5) The views, the people, the history, and the love that is Portugal
Please see some of my favorite posts on Catavino.net to gain a sense of this special place:
and one of my favorites of all time:
The Undiscovered Inland Cuisine of Portugal (“bacon is butter here”)
All pricing based on double occupancy. Contact us for single supplement details and pricing.
We have a convenient installment system in place for planning your vacation to Portugal.
Down payment to secure your spot: $500 per person*
*This down payment is non-refundable
Second Installment: $1000 per person due January 31, 2016
Third Installment: $1600 per person due April 1, 2016
Final Installment: $1600 per person due August 1, 2016
Total cost (land only, based on double occupancy): $4700 per person
EARLY BIRD SPECIAL
Join the tour before December 31st, 2015 and receive $600 OFF PER PERSON
($600 discount applied to the Final Installment payment due August 1st)
As you can imagine, there are many expenses and logistics involved in the planning of a trip such as this. Deposits paid to hotels, transport companies, wineries, and other destinations shape the cancellation policy. Full details with the travel contract you’ll receive upon registration.
- 90+ days out: 30% of the total paid minus the initial $500 payment is non-refundable.
- 75 days out: 50% of the total paid minus the initial $500 payment is non-refundable.
- 45 days prior to arrival: 100% non refundable.