I’ve been under the weather for the last few days—not conducive to tasting and reviewing wines. But this video of the old days on Portugal’s Douro river cheered me up. (h/t Jamie Goode)
The Douro region is fascinating because it is an example of the hardships people have endured through history to harvest grapes and get their wines to market. Steep hillsides bordering the river meant workers had to carry harvested grapes on their back. And after the wine was barreled it was sent down the treacherous river in small boats to the port at Oporto to be shipped to England where most port wine was consumed.
Today, the Douro River is a placid thoroughfare for cruise ships carrying tourists into the back country, thanks to 5 dams and locks built in the early 1970’s. The port barrels are sent to Oporto in trucks travelling on well-paved roads, and in the larger vineyards in mid-Douro owned by the big port houses, terraced vineyards now allow some machine harvesting.
But in years past winemaking was a dangerous business.