Viticultural area: Douro

Associated viticultural areas Portugal Portugal Douro Douro

Nôrte Douro

Wine-growing method in DouroThe history of wine-growing in the Douro valley has very ancient origins. The most important aspect over the centuries has been the introduction of many legislative measures aimed at promoting the wine and the area of the Douro. In the mid 18th century, the Marquis of Pombal founded the Upper Douro General Vineyard Company, with a decree of 10th September 1756. The boundaries set by the Marquis of Pombal introduced into wine-making history the modern concept of the Controlled Denomination of Origin.
Until the last 25 years of the 19th century, when there was an epidemic of phylloxera, of downy mildew and oidium which destroyed most of the vineyards in the area, vines were grown on rows close to one another. Even today in extensive uncultivated areas or areas where other crops are grown it is possible to see old walls, which are known as “mortorios”. When vines were replanted, stone walls were built or horizontal terraces with earth embankments.

Facts and figures
Total wine-growing area of Douro Region (ha.)


Total wine-growing area on difficult terrain
(altitude, steep slopes, terracing) (ha.)


Area with slopes > 30% (ha.)


Area at an altitude > 500 m above sea level (ha.)


Area terraced (ha.)


Maximum altitude of the vineyards (m above sea level)


Area of vineyards on difficult terrain

Along the banks of the Douro and of its tributaries Varosa, Corgo, Ceira, Tedo, Távora, Torto, Pinhão, Tua, Sabor and Côa.

(Data updated to 2006)

Subdivision of the area

7.1% of the area belongs to 0.1 % of the holdings cultivating over 10 hectares.. Holdings from 1 to 10 ha cover 40% of the area and are 5.5% of all companies. 17% of the area is made up of 7.7% of the wineries with between 0.5 and 1 ha. Below 0.5 ha are 86.7% of the producers covering 35.9% of the area.

Wine-growing landscape

The vineyards, once laid out in narrow terraces supported by stone walls, are today more frequently planted in horizontal terraces with earth embankments. Where suitable, vines are grown in the direction of the slope. Another typical feature of this area is connected with the fact that, according to tradition, port must be produced by a combination of different vines which, adapting to the various microclimates, are able to guarantee better quality. The countryside has such distinctive features that 24,600 ha were declared a UNESCO heritage site in 2001.

Main vines

White grapes:

  • Codega
  • Malvasia fina
  • Malvasia rei
  • Malvasia preta
  • Gouveio verdelho
  • Codega larinho
  • Carrega branco
  • Moscatel galego
  • Fernão Pires
Black grapes:

  • Touriga francesa
  • Tinta roriz
  • Tinta barocca
  • Tinta amarela
  • Mourisco
  • Rabigato
  • Tinta Carvalha
  • Touriga nacional