On the Stepping Gardens:
Douro has been historically dominated by port production, with the grapes and the wine transported down the Douro River, culminating in Porto. It is known as the world oldest demarcated region, established in 1756, producing Portugal most recognizable export. However the winemaking itself goes, arguably, several millennia back. Recently, the art of making of the unfortified wines has been revived building on the port tradition of quality, indigenous grapes, settled here in the middle ages, and diversity (some blends can be made of 30 and more varieties).
The unmistakable landscape of Douro has been recognized by UNESCO as the World Heritage Site in 2001. The vines are arranged in the narrow terraces stepping from the river to the top of the steep valleys, on the schist and granitic soils. Working here is hard but the conditions are beneficial to the longevity of the vines, and concentrate flavours, colours and aromas. The deep valleys created by Douro and its tributaries create distinct microclimates between the estates. Dirk Niepoort was a key figure to provoke the current dry winemaking revival with the region responding with a unique collection of top quality wines. Touriga National, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca and Souzão are some of the most common grapes.