We talk a lot about Spain here at Spain Savvy, but you may not know that we also send tons of our clients to Portugal too! It’s an easy tag-on to a Spanish adventure, or it’s a fantastic trip all on its own. And with direct flights from the U.S. to Lisbon on United’s partner TAP Portugal, getting there is easy. 

One of our incredible partners in Portugal makes any trip to the country worthwhile. The folks at Douro Exclusive take travelers on a phenomenal Douro Valley wine tour through the stunning wine-growing region that is truly unforgettable. The Spain Savvy team had the amazing opportunity to experience one of their food and wine tours, and we couldn’t recommend it more!  If you hadn’t thought of taking a visit to the Douro Valley, Ana Carvalho and Marco Pinto of Douro Exclusive are about to change that. 

Ana and Marco’s Story

Ana and Marco of Douro Exclusive

Ana and Marco are quite possibly some of the most incredible people we’ve ever met! They were both raised in the Douro Valley Wine Country, and when they lost their jobs in the pharmaceutical industry, they decided to take their lifelong passion for the region and build a wine-focused tourism company. When they started Douro Exclusive in 2012, they were the only Douro Valley natives doing so.

Ana in particular has very deep roots in the wine world. Her grandparents grew grapes in the valley to sell for Port wine, or “vinho fino” as the locals call it. Today, she and Marco are deeply connected to their family and close friends who work as producers and winemakers in the region.

The Douro Valley

Douro Valley picnic with Douro Exclusive

The Douro is an absolutely breathtaking wine-growing region. Its landscape was built by hand over hundreds of years, transforming rough, rocky, and barren slopes into cultivable terraces. And it was from these terraces that one of the most iconic wines in the world was born: Port.

This region has become more than just Port wine, which is far more diverse than you can imagine. Along with Port, there are also new DOC (European certification for protected wine-growing regions) red and white varietals, all produced from the region’s indigenous grapes.

When you visit the Douro Valley wine region, it’s like traveling back in time. The grape harvest is still done by hand, and many wineries actually practice the ancient method of foot treading. You’ll see the titanic force that was needed to build these vineyards, and you’ll see how the humans are capable of accomplishing some of the most extraordinary things. Which is why in 2001, the Douro Valley was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site. And Ana and Marco see it as their duty to protect this legacy and to care for this living landscape as they take their guests on each Douro Valley wine tour.

The Douro Exclusive Team

To really understand how to best share her love for this amazing region with travelers from all over the world, Ana decided to get her degree in tourism. The whole team is fabulous and they really understand how to create a guest experience. And in addition to the extensive knowledge that’s been passed down to her and Marco from family and friends in the Douro Valley, all Douro Exclusive team members have their 2nd level certification of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET).

The Douro Valley Wine Tour Experience

wine tasting in Douro Valley

Since the inception of Douro Exclusive, Ana and Marco have been driving from their home in the Douro Valley to pick up clients in Porto, trekking through the valley for a full-day wine experience, and then taking their guests back to Porto. They continue to put in over 300 miles a day to provide the most memorable Douro Valley wine tour to their clients.

Port wine on the river in Douro Valley with Douro Exclusive

Douro Exclusive has been sitting at #1 on TripAdvisor for some time for their food and wine tours! They offers two types of experiences, the Immersive Douro Experience and the Back to the Douro Roots Experience. Both give guests an incredible journey through the Douro landscape, exclusive wine tours and tastings, and a Port-paired boat ride through the river. Whether you’re looking for a Michelin wine-pairing lunch or intimate connections with locals, all of their tours let their clients dive deep into the exquisite wine and food culture, and get to know some incredible winemakers, traditions, and gorgeous views in the process. And the great thing is, we at Spain Savvy work hand-in-hand with Ana and Marco to create customized tours that suit your preferences.

Casa do Arco Guest Villa

View from Casa do Arco in Douro Valley

Their newest edition, the Casa do Arco Guest Villa, is what Ana and Marco refer to as an extension of the love and service provided after a full day wine experience. At this exclusive Portuguese villa, you will find a true sense of place. You really feel at home in the Douro Valley, as though you were a part of its magical history.

Room at Douro Exclusive's Casa do Arco

Each of the three rooms are designed to offer luxury, comfort, simplicity, and elegance. Ana and Marco strive to take their guests on a sensory experience throughout their stay. And with impeccable views of the valley from practically every corner of the property, it’s easy to see why.

view from Arco Room at Casa do Arco

The accompanying Arco Room is an intimate dining room (with spectacular views) where guests can enjoy olive oil tastings, Barrancos ham from the Alentejo region, and their prized dry-aged rubia Gallega beef. But the real treasures are their wine offerings: tastings from over 80 producers from each of the sub-regions in the Douro.
Ana of Douro Exclusive

The Douro Valley is undoubtedly a territory to be visited and explored by all wine and food lovers, especially those looking to experience a rich and unique story told by two passionate, professional, and service-oriented individuals. It’s also a place beloved by those looking for a natural escape, adventure (hiking, biking, and kayaking!), history, and culture. Put the Douro Valley at the top of your must-see travel list. And make sure you put an experience with Douro Exclusive at the center.