World Heritage Site
The Douro Valley in the north of Portugal is reckoned as the world's most spectacular wine-producing area/region: The home of port wine is the world's oldest Protected Designation of Origin. Thus in 2001 the UNESCO even declared this site as an official world heritage. In 1756 Portugal's first Prime Minister Marquês de Pompal (1699-1782) put up borders to create a viticulture monopoly. The region's port wine particularly fuelled the country's upswing. In addition, the soul of Portugal, Douro Valley, gained international publicity.
A milestone in the recent history of wine represents the accession of Portugal to the European Community in 1986: The adjustment to EU production standards evoked a small revolution in Douro Valley. Previously a law said that only local haulers of Vila Nova de Gaia were allowed to export the popular port wine – the marketing of table wine and small-scale vine growers suffered from it.
This law was repealed a result of the EU accession. Numerous viticulturalists/vine-growers thereupon decided to stop selling their grapes to haulers. Instead they started to press and market their wine themselves. Many producers as well as wine producing regions united and established the new Portuguese seal of quality “ Denominação de Origem Controlada“ (D.O.C.). It was adjusted to the ones in France (A.O.C.), Italy (D.O.C.) and Spain (D.O.). Ever since then it guarantees the outstanding quality of excellent products such as wine, cheese, butter, oil, etc.
Thanks to high EU support money small and medium-sized firms were able to modernize their vineyards and manufacturing facilities. Furthermore, young vine-growers used this chance to found their own wine press houses. Together they want to bring new glory to the wine growing area Douro Valley - as the origin of world class wine - which has focused on producing port wine for centuries.