The demarcated region of the Douro is located between Serra do Marão (150 km from Porto) and Barca d’Alva (near the Spanish frontier). The Douro River is the confluent element of the whole area, which has spectacular landscapes throughout its course, these being the product of nature and human labour. Around the river and in the hills there is a great diversity of fauna and flora.
The Mediterranean climate is hard and harsh; hot and dry in the summer, cold in the winter, with low levels of rainfall due to the protective effect of the Marão mountain range to the wet winds of the Atlantic Ocean. This climatic rigour provides grapes generous in sweetness and fragrance.
The vines thrive on the hard schistose soils and on steep slopes. Hard work and constant effort are essential in order to dominate this scarped relief, forming, hoe by hoe, stone by stone, a landscape of impressive terraces, on each of which generally two rows of vines are planted. After the phyloxera plague, horizontal landings with land declivities began to appear, allowing the introduction of partial mechanization in the vineyard.
In 1756, the Douro region was delimited, thus becoming the first demarcated wine region in the world. In 2001 the “Alto Douro Vinhateiro” became a World Heritage Site, in the cultural landscape category, by UNESCO.
Nowadays, this wine region is divided in three sub-regions: Baixo Corgo, Cima Corgo and Douro Superior, each of which has different characteristics. The wine region has approximately 250.000 hectares, 40.000 of which are planted with vines. The largest vineyards are located in the Douro Superior.
Today agriculture, and especially viniculture, is dominant in the lives of the population, employing more than one third of its active population.
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