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Portugal For Wine Lovers

By June 12, 2023No Comments

Experience the history and culture of port winemaking along the Douro River.

Pictured above is Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city with ancient, pastel-hued houses lining the riverfront, and slipperlike rabelo boats bobbing in the water. Venture down the city’s medieval cobblestoned streets and pop into the Palácio das Artes museum – followed naturally, with a glass of port.

Portugal was named after Porto, where port winemaking is embedded in the history and culture. Ideal for river cruises, we recommend wine lovers consider sailing through the Douro Valley, one of the world’s oldest wine regions.

As early as the fourth century, Romans cultivated wine in this harsh, rocky region. Its hot, arid climate was good for growing grapes, but not for storing wine, so casks were transported by boat to Porto, at the mouth of the river, where the wine was aged on the lower banks. Back then, the Douro was wild and unpredictable, and to keep the wine from spoiling along the journey, a little brandy was added – which is how port came to be. Today, thanks to a system of locks, the river is as calm as bathwater, ideal for river cruising.

Mateus Palace – Photo by Rachael A. Jones

About halfway to the Spanish border, is Pinhão in the heart of the Douro Valley’s wine-making region.

Learn about port-making at Quinta do Seixo, where some of the best and oldest grapes for the renowned Sandeman ports are grown. At the eighteenth-century baroque Mateus Palace in the nearby town of Vila Real, wander among the box hedges in its French-inspired gardens. Rather than its history, the palace is best known for its likeness, which appears on the label of the middlebrow Mateus rosé, still sold in its iconic World War I-inspired flask-shaped bottle.

A wine bar on the riverbank.  -EStock Photo

Barca d’Alva, the last Portuguese town before the Spanish border, and Régua, first settled by the Romans are beautiful towns to explore. Wine lovers won’t want to miss the tiny pre-Roman hilltop town of Favaios, where we recommend the family-owned Quinta da Avessada, where port is produced from a vineyard so ancient that it’s been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the view reveals vineyard-covered Douro Valley hills as far as you can see.

Portugal is home to roughly 250 native grape varieties; wine is harvested, produced, and tossed back in nearly every corner of the country. In its capital, enjoy a variety of hotels and don’t miss Lisbon’s quiet Estrela neighborhood.

Advisor Tip

For a winetasting day trip from the city, We recommend Quinta de Sant’Ana, a family-run estate in the Sintra region less than 45 minutes north of Lisbon.

French Import: Les Bons Vivants

Owners Léonie Benoist and Ulysse Jasinsky modeled this shabby-chic boîte in up-and-coming Intendente on the easygoing French bistros they frequented while growing up in Poitiers. Redbrick walls, warm wood furniture, and neon signs set the scene for a night of French cheese and wine. The team imports les vins themselves, including only-here exclusives such as the Les Bons Vivants Cuvée, a fresh, fruity blend of muscadelle and sauvignon blanc, made in partnership with biodynamic winemaker Philippe Maffre in southern France. Benoist appreciates how low-intervention wines allow her to better connect with guests. “These are the types of wine that you need time to discuss with people,” she says. “They offer a surprise each time.”

Organic wines from Prado Mercearia.

Prado Mercearia

Timeworn, geometric-patterned tiled floors; mason jars filled with colorful ingredients; and antique reproductions that mimic old-world, buy-everything-here grocery stores make this gourmet deli-cum-wine bar one of Lisbon’s most photogenic spaces. Lining the shelves are Portuguese foodstuffs and wines, which visitors can purchase to go or enjoy at one of the smattering of tables. The all-natural, all-Portuguese wine list is ever-growing and ever-changing. “We’re seeing new producers emerge from different parts of the country all the time,” says grocer Carlos Duarte. “People are thirsty for them.” Duarte is a fan of the 2020 Loureiro from Aphros, a biodynamic farm in the northern region of Minho. Its aromatic sweetness is balanced by bracing acidity – just the pour to put a smile on a sunny Lisbon afternoon.

Viking’s 25th Anniversary (4:01)

Chairman Torstein Hagen marks Viking’s 25th

Viking Cruises 25th anniversary sale, FREE Airfare & Special Fares – Book by June 30Sail to charming cities & villages

Visit Budapest’s Castle District and cross the famous Chain Bridge. Explore Göttweig Abbey, one of Austria’s most revered monastic centers, and make dumplings with Wachau Valley apricots. Visit historic Salzburg. Spend two days in Vienna, and celebrate the city’s musical heritage at a concert featuring works by Mozart and Strauss. With medieval towns, grand cities and stunning scenery, this 8-day journey on the “Blue Danube” is one you are sure to love.Viking.TV Discovers The Danube

Tivoli Avenida Liberdade Lisbon

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom
  • $100 USD equivalent Hotel credit to be utilized during stay, applicable towards Lobby Bar, Restaurant Cervejaria Liberdade or Anantara SPA treatments (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

Awaken your adventure-seeking soul

Gentle breezes, first-class views, and not a worry in sight. With Celebrity Cruises, amazing is always on the itinerary, whether you’re winetasting in Ibiza, off-roading in the Sierra Madres, snorkeling in Saint Kitts, or fueling up with coffee and pastries for the day’s adventures on your balcony.

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Enjoy 75% off your second guest’s fare, save up to an additional $800 per stateroom, and receive shipboard credits. That’s all on top of exclusive Santa Barbara Travel benefits like a specialty dinner for two and a $75 shopping credit per stateroom with select sailings when booked by July 6, 2023.

Travel News

Europe requiring ETIAS form in 2024 – Americans who plan to travel to the 26 members of Europe’s Schengen Zone in 2024 will have to apply for a new travel authorization called ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System). This new travel authorization form will be required upon entry and is another layer that the European Union is using to protect and strengthen its borders. The U.S. currently requires an ESTA for people entering the U.S. and this is to mimic our system. The application form will take about 10 minutes to fill out and yes, there will be a 7 euro fee to get your ETIAS approval.  For a list of all the countries you will need an ETIAS in 2024 please CLICK HERE
The State Department has a very helpful map you can use to see the number of travel advisories around the world. CLICK HERE to see the map. 

Santa Barbara Travel Advisors are Belmond Bellini Club members!

In addition to being Virtuoso Advisors, we are happy to announce that all of our Advisors are also Belmond Bellini Club members. Belmond has some of the most well-regarded luxury hotels, trains, and river cruises in the world. If you’re going to book a Belmond experience, you should absolutely go through a Belmond Bellini Club travel advisor. They can add perks like complimentary upgrades, free breakfast, hotel credits, and much more.

Client Events and Giveaways As a locally owned and operated business, Santa Barbara Travel Bureau values customer service and the importance of relationships. As we continue to celebrate our 75th anniversary, keep your eye out for our next client give away!In appreciation of our clients, we’ve given away a luxury ski trip at the Aspen Snowmass Viceroy, including lift tickets and three nights in an all-inclusive Singita luxury African safari lodge.Regent Luxury Cruise Night planned for July.If you haven’t already been receiveing our event evites, please email to be added.*Must have booked with Santa Barbara Travel Bureau within the past year to be eligible to win.