I just ended a whirlwind week in Portugal on a wine press trip with Vinho Verde!! This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was so much better than I could have imagined. I made new friends, got to eat grapes fresh off the wines, earned a lot about Portugal, and of course, tasted a LOT of amazing wines.
It’s been a while since I’ve gotten to write a travel diary post for you guys (thanks 2020). Here’s an inside look on all that I’ve been up to this past week along with tons of BTS photos you won’t see on Instagram!
Full Of Gratitude For This Experience
I’ve said this so many times on Instagram already, but I’ve just been feeling so much gratitude for being invited on this wine trip. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that honestly, after all the chaos of 2020 I wasn’t sure would be possible again for a long time.
December 2019, I was on a local wine tasting press trip up in Healdsburg (probably my favorite of the wine regions in California.) We were all sitting around dinner one night chatting and one of the other women started telling us about some of the events and press trips she’s done in the past.
Her favorite was working with wines of New Zealand. She spent a week traveling around the island with other wine writers tasting all the amazing Sauvignon Blancs, learning about local wineries and soaking up the magic of New Zealand.
I remember thinking: I need to figure out how to get invited on international travel wine trips. I’ll never stop being excited about zipping up to Sonoma or Napa Valley to show you guys amazing wineries. But there’s so many more amazing wine regions in the world out there to experience and taste from.
And of course, I can always go to a wine shop and buy bottles from New Zealand to taste the wine, but what I really love about social media and blogging is being able to see things in person.
To be able to show you the people behind labels, the literal vineyards that grow the grapes that to into the bottle of wine you’re drinking at home. What the sunsets look like there, maybe there’s a winery dog you never knew existed but now you’ll always think of her when you sip that certain wine. It’s the stories.
So, getting the email that Vinho Verde wines wanted me to attend their press trip in Portugal so I could do exactly that? I absolutely did a happy dance in my apartment.
I Flew Out Early To Visit Porto, Portugal
What made this whole wine press trip even more special was that one of my best blogger besties, Elise, was also invited on the trip! Usually, on these press trip opportunities, I have no idea who the other journalists and bloggers are until I arrive. So having a friend along as well was surprising, and amazing.
We decided to fly out to Porto together a few days earlier to give time to adjust to the new time zone (8 hours ahead of California) and also to explore the town. I ended up writing a huge Porto travel guide from that trip you should check out if you’re coming to visit.
After a weekend running around this charming city, we finally got to meet up with the other wine bloggers and kick off the wine trip!! I think Elise and I looked at each other a lot that first day just being like “holy cow, we’re here in Portugal wine tasting. This is our job!!”
I do wish we had time to spend a few days in Lisbon as well that summer, but our time in Porto and Vinho Verde wine country was amazing.
Meet The Other Wine Bloggers
This trip was small. Just me, Elise and two other wine bloggers that you absolutely need to follow on Instagram! Meet Xingyu of @winememoir and Nicole of @grapechic. They’re both so dang nice and fun, and very knowledgeable about the wine industry. I learned a lot from them over the course of the trip.
What Happens On Wine Press Trips?
So, what happens on wine press trips anyways? This was my first international press trip but it was similar to the local ones I’ve attended. Basically: a LOT of wine and a LOT of food! We did the math afterward and think we tasted about 200-250 wines during the whole trip.
We kicked off the trip in Porto at the Vinho Verde wine house, which is this gorgeous historical house that overlooks the Douro River. If you ever visit Porto, you can book a 5 Euro wine tasting at the house, they hold them every Wednesday!
We had dinner to get to know each other and then back to the house the next morning to meet about 6 different wine producers and do more tasting. Then we got to go into the Vinho Verde wine region to visit wineries and producers in person. This was my favorite part.
I love wandering rows of vineyards and meeting the people who make the wine. It’s always special when they let you eat a few grapes fresh from the wines. And you know me – I love when these wineries have cool things like chateaus or amazing views. I packed a sequin ballgown to Portugal literally just to take photos in front of the chateau at Quinta da Aveleda.
And we also got to taste wines from:
- J.P. Ramos
- Adega Ponte De Lima
- Valados de Melgaço
- Casa Vila Verde
- Jose Maria Da Fonseca
- Manuel Costa & Filhos
I’m sure I forgot a few producers, I tried to keep track of them all but we sure did taste a lot!!!
What Is Vinho Verde Wine Like?
Fresh, young, vibrant fruits, a bit acidic and low alcohol. Many are amazing on their own, but when in doubt, pair with food.
Vinho Verde wines are usually white, with a growing Rosé market. They do also make a Red, but producer after producer kept telling us things along the lines of “They reds are interesting, you need food with them and not everyone likes them…” we did finally get to try a few and I would agree – I don’t think everyone would like them. That’s why the wine trade tends to only export Whites and Rosé so that’s what you’ll find in the stores in the US.
Over 85% of the wines are white and made with Alvarinho grapes. (You may recognize this grape as Albariño.) There’s also Loureiro, which may be my favorite, Avesso, Arinto, Azal, Avesso, and Trajadura varietals.
Monverde Hotel – A Luxury Hotel In The Middle of Vineyards
What was probably one of the coolest part of this trip was staying at the Monverde Hotel. It’s this stunning luxury hotel that’s smack in the middle of vineyards. Mornings were foggy here, and I took walks among the vines every day with my coffee. It felt like I had the whole place to myself.
The pool is enchanting. It overlooks the vineyards and has simply the most stunning evening light. We didn’t get a lot of downtime to spend here since we were always out at wineries learning about Vinho Verde, but Elise and I did sneak in an hour poolside before dinner one night. I wore this cute AF swimsuit from Cupshe that ya’ll love on Instagram.
Monverde also has a winery here (Quinta Da Lixa) that makes this amazing Pet-Nat you simply must try. The restaurant on site is scrumptious, so we had dinner here nightly, of course we paired amazing Quinta De Lixa and other local Vinho Verde wines. Sometimes we got very extra and would pair 2-3 wines PER dish just because. It was hard to check out of this place.
But, finally, our wine trip did end! It was also hard to say goodbye to Nicole and Xingyu and our two trip leads, Daria and Alexsandra.
We headed back to Porto for one last goodbye to the city before flying back home. Elise and I have brutal flight times — we had to wake up at 2:45am to leave for the airport. Thankfully, Lisbon has a really nice lounge that we both can access due to our priority pass. They have nap rooms here! So, we got to have a solid 2-hour nap horizontally during our layover before heading home.
Elise did an upgrade to first class since she’s a baller. I stayed in the economy but lucked out on having a whole row to myself so the flight back wasn’t that bad at all.
And, I did manage to figure out how to fly 5 bottles of Vinho Verde back home. It was a challenge since I was already a few pounds overweight on my suitcase when I flew there. Thankfully I had two backpacks and there was a scale in one of our hotels so I was able to swap things out and carry the two backpacks on the plane. I do need a week or two break from drinking wine after this trip, but I already have a few meals planned for pairing with these bottles.
Next time you are in the grocery store, look for Vinho Verde. Most bottles will have “Vinho Verde” on the front but all of them have the official Vinho Verde label on the back with a blue and green logo. That’s how you know it’s legit.
Now, excuse me while I squeeze my cat and my husband and sit in bed for at least 2 days straight as I recover from jet lag. What a fantastic week.