Porto and its port wine :)

Towards Portugal! Have wanted to go there for a long time, but it never got off. Who hasn’t heard of how amazing Lisbon is. The coast, on the other hand, does not have the best reputation in sailing circles. It is best known for two things ….. fog and fishing net!

Of course, we got to know both. Every time we saw a net emerge we turned off the engine so the propeller stopped spinning, folded the blades on it and kept an eye on the little ball or plastic can attached to the net. Would we start to drag it down? Do you see the buoys in the right image? They are not big. The fog didn’t make it any easier either, so we didn’t see all the nets in time, but we were lucky, nothing stuck.

I’ve never liked fog. But nowadays with both AIS and radar showing what is near us, and with the knowledge that we are visible to others, it feels ok. There is a big difference between how we used to go blindly without knowing what was in front or behind. Usch, usch, has some nasty memories from that time. In addition, with GPS you always know exactly where you are too, no ”dead count” anymore with just an estimated position.

Magiskt hur snabbt dimman lättar när vi lämnar det öppna havet och seglar in till Porto.

Magical how quickly the fog lightens as we leave the open sea and sail into Porto.

We mostly stayed in Porto to avoid sailing overnight on our way to Lisbon, and expectations were not so great. Large cities are rarely cozy and Porto is Portugal’s second largest city. But so wrong I was. Porto is a very nice city and there is much to see and do.

At the mouth of the river, Duoro is Porto on the north side and on the south side Gaia with all the wine houses and the old cargo boats.

They are joined by six bridges, of which Ponte Luis I, designed by Eiffel, is the one you just have to cross. The view is amazing!

Above our marina is the small fishing village of Afurada. Nowadays it is part of Gaia but still retains its own character.

Grilled fish was served at all the small restaurants, and here we ate our first evening.

For a couple of days, we then walk around in Porto. In both small cozy alleys and on touristy streets with shops, bars, and restaurants. We eat Natas (Portuguese pastries) with port wine, eat good food, drink good drinks and enjoy it.

Sometimes it is quite a work to walk in a big city, but a little coffee does the trick for the mood 🙂

Port wine

Port wine can only be called port wine if it comes from here, and very much in Porto deals with this wine. The grapes grow in the Duoro Valley a bit inland, where the conditions are perfect for cultivation. But for storage it is too hot, so all wine houses have storage rooms in the cooler Gaia. Previously, the barrels were transported there by boats, so that all the premises are along the river. Port Wine Testing is a must if you are in Porto, and in our harbor dues included testing of Churchill’s, so there had to be.

A slumber after dinner is never wrong, even if it looked a little hard on the bench to the entrance of Churchill´s

Since it was a free-testing, so we thought it would just be something simple, but how wrong we were here, too. It was both ordinary wine and port wine. We got our own small table and our own waiter, and the more we asked he thought …. but then you have to try this too, and this and this one that is even better !!! And he wasn’t skinny with the centiliters either. Maybe a clever sales ploy, but it was good and nice 🙂

We also got a guided tour of their premises. Churchill´s is a small wine house, about 30 employees, and all wine is still trampled. They are too small to have the quantity, so they invest in quality instead, and foot tramping is still the best and gentlest way to squeeze the grapes.

After the tour, we were offered to taste another port wine, but then we declined the offer.

Some of Churchill’s wines are found at Systembolaget at home, and it was interesting to compare the price. The 2011 vintage costs about SEK 1000, but only SEK 499 at Systembolaget. Purchasing large volumes pays off and prices are an advantage with our Systembolag, regardless of what you then think of monopoly, etc.

Duoro valley

Inspired by the tasting at Churchill’s, we set off on a guided tour of the Duoro Valley. We visited two wine houses, both so small that they used foot trampling.

We were seven people in a minibus with a very nice guide. Besides us, there was a younger couple from Mauritius, now living in Luxembourg, two young girls from Germany on a road trip in Portugal, and a super-social American from Los Angeles. Exciting mix and very nice 🙂 We exchanged email addresses with them from Mauritius, so we end up there at some point just to hear about tips on the island. Wouldn’t surprise me either if they hear from them in the future.. Hey, now we are in Sweden, what is there to do?

At the smallest wine house, they were only 7 employees. The machine attaches the large label, but the lady here has to manually put on extra small patches on all bottles and put them in cartons. We do not remember how much production they had per year, but there were many boxes that stood there now.

We of course ended the tour by buying some wine!

They are fantastic with their tile, to get such beautiful pictures of the small tiles. The guide proudly showed this at the station in the small village. They show a historical story about viticulture, and they were also made in his hometown.

Many years ago we had a bottle of port wine by Jonas’s mother, a 1966 vintage from Warre’s winery. Where can it be better to open it than here in Porto? And it was enough at the time, the cork was about to be destroyed. Luxury one weekday on the boat 🙂

Swell at the jetty

We also got to try what it is like when swell from a storm far away reaches us. There was no wind at all in Porto, but there was this swell of 3-4 m that pulled into the estuary and into the marina. The boat was moving from side to side, forward and backward. Late in the evening in the dark, we finally felt compelled to go out and moor the boat up in all directions to keep her as still as possible and not to tear too hard on just one tamp. Our fenders were almost completely compressed and we thought about how long they would last before blasting. The jetties were at least still, which, according to our Portuguese boat neighbor, they do not are when the winter storms pass out on the Atlantic. This time everything went well and it was a useful reminder for us to also think about how swell affects a port by an ocean. We have written a special blog post Swell in Porto about how the swell affected the mooring and how we finally moored the boat.

The blog requires hard work 🙂

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