Graham’s Port Lodge: Tour and Port Wine Tasting
If you are travelling to Porto and you are not opposed to alcohol, a visit to a Port Lodge is a must. Port wine was actually called after Porto and the vineyards along the Douro River provide grapes for its production.
We have selected to visit Graham’s Port Lodge as port wine of this brand is one of the most well known in the UK. The lodge is located a fair distance from Vila Nova de Gaia main strolling promenade, but I can tell you now that it is worth making the trek. You will be able to see a series of warehouses and the actual town of Vila Nova de Gaia without touristic crowds. It is a steep walk, but when you reach the lodge, it looks as if it has been placed here by accident.
However, it is quite the opposite- when you see the lodge, you will be able to imagine how the warehouses and lodges, which populated the area in the past, looked like. The area which has grown around Graham’s Lodge now is filled with modern apartments and usual infrastructure of hairdressers/mini-markets and bakeries. But at the lodge – it is peaceful, with grape wines growing over your head and there is also a surprise, waiting for you at the end of the tour.
The tour is fully accessible with kids and buggies, the lodge has been equipped with lifts and sloping surfaces. At the start, we met our guide Anna, who took us on an hour-long discovery inside the lodge. I am not going to tell you all the details, that Anna shared with us, should you decide to do the tour yourselves.
The tour covers such areas as history of port wine, production, storage and different types of wine, as well special kinds of port wine produced by Graham’s. Sadly, some of the traditional methods are dying as young people are not interested to learn the craft, but Symington family, which owns the lodge, is investigating possible solutions for this.
What really struck me was that after the tour you gain such an appreciation of how much work goes into each bottle of port wine and how many people are actually involved in producing best quality wine. It is not a factory, where bottles get filled and dispatched, it all starts with grapes in Douro valley, harvest, careful selection and blending with years of family expertise and respect for everyone involved in the process. I can promise you that after the tour you will never look at your bottle of port with the same eyes!
After the tour you will be given an opportunity to try a selection of port wines and your guide will provide tasting notes. You can also additionally order a selection of tasty snacks, like cheese or chocolate, to go with your wines. The room, where your tasting is going to take place, will depend which wines you have selected, but both the Tasting Room and The Vintage Room are beautifully laid out.
Tasting room has plenty of light and space for the kids to relax if necessary, and if you manage to get the seat by the window, Porto will be visible in the distance.
We were in the Vintage Room and I momentarily thought that I have been transported into one of those 19th century cigar rooms for gentlemen, where they have enjoyed their after dinner drinks.
We have tried Six Grapes, 10 Years Old Tawny and 20 Years Old Tawny – the first and the last ones being my favourites. Now equipped with all this knowledge from the tour and actual tasting, I feel much more confident when shopping for port wine, whether it is for myself or for presents. Actually, I will definitely be giving several bottles as Christmas presents this year.
At the end of the tour, you can shop to your heart content in a wonderfully stocked Lodge shop.
Remember, I also mentioned that there will be a surprise at the end? The terrace and the view of Porto is breathtaking. There are plenty of seats to relax and enjoy any extra drinks you want to try or you can take the place at the front and enjoy the view. We finished the tour when it was getting dark and Porto was glistening with lights in the distance, but the view is so nice, it does not matter which time of the day you visit.
Overall, this was a fantastic experience and I loved discovering how port wine is made. The environment in Graham’s Lodge is welcoming and friendly, it offers accessible space and you can bring your kids with you. Parents will certainly enjoy the tour and the tasting, so I highly recommend putting Graham’s Lodge on your list of places to visit when you are in Porto.
You will need to book your visit in advance at Graham’s 1890 Lodge website.
Have you visited any lodges when you were in Porto? Let me know how your visit went!
Disclaimer: We were guests of Graham’s 1890 Lodge, but all opinions are my own.