The Douro Valley, Portugal. October 2019 (Day 2)

The view from my hotel room bedroom window this morning.

Our first stop today is Murganheira wine cellars, founded over 60 years ago, and located between the old wine producing villages of Ucanha and Salzedas. The Murganheira wines and sparkling wines are aged in its unique blue granite cellars, which provide  a naturally perfect environment for wine maturation.  The wine uses the same method  of production as champagne. Once bottled, the wine is stored for a minimum of three years. Each bottle is turned by hand once a year.

Three million bottles are produced annually, they sell around one million bottles every year, twenty percent is exported, the rest is for domestic consumption. After a tour of the cellars we had the opportunity to taste the sparkling wine, the Portuguese equivalent of champagne.

The wine-growing village of Salzedas, which lies in the municipality of Tarouca (Viseu), was home to one of Portugal’s most important monasteries. The Cistercian Monastery of Santa Maria de Salzedas was built on the orders of Teresa Afonso (1100-1171). It was remodelled a number of times over the centuries and only a small chapel remains from the original building. The monks who lived here were the main drivers of the agricultural development of the region. They worked the fields around the monastery, which is now a national monument.

Ucanha is one of the oldest settlements in the region. The Romans farmed the fertile soil of the Varosa River valley, after the Romans, the monks also played a key role in developing the land. The 12th Century fortified bridge, one of a kind in Portugal, and the toll tower, are the main points of interest in Ucanha.

This afternoon we boarded the Comboio Histórico do Douro, the Douro Historical train. It journeys along the Douro River from Régua to Tua and back. Steam engine 0186 was built in 1925, and pulls five classic wooden carriages. Shortly after we set off, we were given a glass of Porto Ferreira to sample, and regional singers and musicians, in traditional dress, work their way along the train singing traditional songs, creating a party atmosphere.

We had a short stop at Pinhão station which has a series of glazed tile panels, produced in 1937, depicting the different stages of wine making. At Tua there is time to have a coffee and listen to the music before we get on back on board, we were given Régua candies to enjoy on the return journey. As we near Régua we are just in time to see the sun slipping behind the mountains.

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