For The Love of Port Tours - 2013
Port Explorer’s Tour: June 3 – 8, 2013
Fortification Tour: June 16 – 22, 2013
Port Harvest tour: September 29 - October 5, 2013
Our Tours – The FTLOP group tours which began in 2005 typically range in size from 8-12 guests, plus Mario Ferreira and Roy Hersh are involved in guiding every tour. Our long established relationships within the Port, Douro and Madeira wine trade enable us to present singular and exclusive "insider's" adventures for our guests. Every single fun filled vacation provides different wine and dine destinations surrounded by the awe-inspiring natural beauty and serenity of the Douro River Valley, the historic sibling cities of Vila Nova de Gaia and Oporto, and the volcanic mountainous terrain and sub-tropical warmth of Madeira.
Our unique point of difference is not only the high caliber of wines or educational aspects of these bespoke week-long explorations, but stems from the pride we take in researching a wide range of authentic regional cuisine to delight even the most demanding gastronomes. Additionally, we introduce our guests to the esteemed individuals from the Port and Madeira trade who greet us with a warm welcome and wisdom at every destination. The result is magical.
It is our mission to exceed the grand expectations of our client’s year in and year out and we explore small new upstart producers that show great promise, charming mid-sized properties that are gaining market share by producing fantastic quality Port and non-fortified wine, as well as the large and renowned stalwarts that have been around for centuries. In Madeira, we know and virtually have visited every producer left on the island and also share some “off the radar” family-owned hidden gems whose wines typically remain in cask or demijohn and are not commercially released.
Remaining flexible right up to show time, we literally tailor our itineraries to the wish list of our guests. This has become one of the many reasons we've developed such a loyal following. It is humbling to have so many guests join us for their annual vacations and we take this responsibility very seriously, trying to raise the bar each and every year. Finding great new epicurean experiences and changing up our hotel selections on occasion, delivering some "off-the-itinerary" surprises on each excursion, planning deep horizontal and/or vertically themed tutored wine tastings and maintaining very small guide-to-guest ratios -- enables us to consistently provide fantastic and memorable experiences for guests – whether they are joining us for their first time, or fifth.
JOIN US FOR A ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME EXPERIENCE!
A brief bio on your two hosts:
Mario Ferreira – is co-tour host, as well as Roy's business partner, longtime friend and Portuguese wine enthusiast who grew up in Alcobaça, an hour outside of Lisbon. Mario worked in the Port trade for several years and afterwards was the Portuguese liaison to the USA for the IVDP (Port & Douro Wine Institute). Mario was sent to America for five years, (based in NY & SF) to promote Port to both consumers and the US wine trade. Mario and Roy met at a trade tasting in Vancouver BC, a decade ago. Several years later Mario visited Roy in Seattle and they discussed the idea of a partnership; to begin bringing folks from around the globe to visit Portugal and provide them with extraordinary personalized experiences in the two major dessert wine regions (Douro and Madeira). Additionally, Mario is involved in several international import/export ventures and is currently based in Africa, although his business travels take him all over the world.
Roy Hersh - has been involved with Port for three decades as a consumer, journalist, historian, web host, educator and tour guide. He's fully dedicated to Port (and Madeira) and it is a significant part of his enjoyment in life. In 2003, Roy was one of two Americans recognized and inducted into the Confraria do Vinho do Port, (or Port Wine Brotherhood) due to his written works promoting Port wine. Following his oath to the Confraria, he began writing a newsletter in February 2004, aptly named FOR THE LOVE OF PORT and in July 2005, followed that up with an interactive website that is dedicated to Port, Madeira and the wines of the Douro. In 1994, Roy took his first trip to Portugal to explore Porto, Vila Nova de Gaia and the Douro and he's revisited twenty times since. His passion for Madeira is also strong, and 2013 will represent Roy's seventh visit to Madeira in the past eight years.
PORT EXPLORER’S TOUR
June 3rd – 8th 2013
The PORT EXPLORER'S TOUR will be focused more on providing a relaxed trip through the Douro and at least one other Portuguese wine region, after a couple of days spent in Oporto and Vila Nova de Gaia. Although remaining focused on wine and food, we'll incorporate other fun cultural visits that will provide a greater understanding of the history and life in the region. This trip was created to feel less intense than our other tours, designed specifically for those who are looking for a fun introduction to Port and the Douro, while seeking a more casual pace. We've planned for more free time too, so you can do some exploring on your own, surrounded by the beauty of northern Portugal. In fact, we have reduced the duration of the trip by one full day this year.
Mario and Roy have listened to feedback from potential guests who'd like to participate, but don't feel that staying at 5* hotels makes sense for them and would prefer a more value oriented introduction to the Port region. We have created this tour with that end in mind. We won't compromise the quality of your experience, but have added great value at a price substantially lower than our other tours. This is great for "first time" explorers, who desire a relaxed and distinctive wine themed vacation.
We also plan to start the majority of our appointments a little bit later in the day, providing for a less harried schedule and the ability to sleep in; with only one or two days where we'll only schedule a single but longer winery visit instead of two. We will ensure that you have plenty to eat and certainly enough great Port & Douro wines to drink, so that will never be a concern.
On the Port Explorer's Tour we plan to capture a broader cultural experience and at least one of our visits will be to the likes of an olive oil producer or offer a cooking class or possibly delving into the caves of an artisan cheese maker. Some of our guests prefer a break from a full week of wine & dine experiences and we plan to include at least one distinctive diversion on every Port Explorer's Tour!
The Port Explorer’s Tour package includes everything except airfare:
June 16th – 22nd 2013
PORTO – GAIA – DOURO – MADEIRA
Our FORTIFICATION TOUR combines the best of the Port region and the rugged charm and wood-aged wines from the island of Madeira. Madeira is located nearly 600 miles from the coast of North Africa in the Atlantic Ocean, an island that I like to refer to as the "Hawaii of the Atlantic". Our guests have truly enjoyed their experiences when joining us to discover Portugal's finest pair of fortified wine regions. Steeped in tradition, both areas provide unsurpassed splendor in the vineyards and some of the most amazing wines on the planet. Whether this is your first time joining us or you've taken part in one of our tours in the past, we change up the venues we visit, as well as the wines and restaurants.
We provide unheralded excursions in which our guests spend their vacation time in Vila Nova de Gaia to gain a historical perspective and enjoy some outlandishly opulent Port tastings before heading up river. The Douro River Valley is a wine region which must be seen to be believed. The vineyards are situated on slopes of up to 70 degrees and we visit some of the premier properties in the region, as well as some that are typically off-the-beaten-path for most Port enthusiasts, while also enjoying authentic Duriense cuisine and remarkable DOC Douro wines. We then head to the island of Madeira for hedonistic days and nights surrounded by striking natural beauty, the warm hospitality of our generous hosts and the opportunity to taste some extraordinarily rare vinous treats!
Our Fortification Tour package includes everything except airfare:
What our clients have said about their excursions with us:
PORT HARVEST TOUR
September 29th – October 5th 2013
Our 2013 PORT HARVEST TOUR will represent our 9th consecutive year of creating once-in-a-lifetime Port excursions for those who are seeking an intensive and fun experience revolving around Port and the Douro during the frenzy of the harvest. From learning the history to tasting nearly every category of Port, we gain loads of satisfaction by just planning the itineraries for these extraordinary annual trips; including wood-aged Colheitas spanning many decades (even centuries on some tours) to unparalleled horizontal and vertical tastings of Vintage Ports, LBV's, Aged White Ports and more.
We also explore many of the finest Douro wines typically paired with the finest cuisine in Porto and Douro region. Our guests stay in first class (5* accommodations) which provide great comfort after long days-into-night of sheer hedonistic pleasure. Have you ever tread on just picked grapes in a lagar? Not just a photo opportunity ... it's actually amazing fun and there's nothing like feeling grapes squishing between your toes and beneath your feet. You will never forget the first time!
This year for the very first time, our tour group spent a half hour picking grapes on the sloping vineyards of Quinta São Luiz, which is where Kopke's grapes come from. We first learned how to be safe and not cut our own fingers off with the incredibly sharp shears we were given. It was a lot of fun, but extraordinarily after filling several plastic box loads full of grapes, moving fairly quickly down the row in which I was situated, I began to realize how back breaking this work really is. I stopped to think about the people that do this for an entire day (an entire harvest!) and then wind up working at night after supper, foot treading grapes in lagar. I'll never take grape picking for granted ever again!
Like all of our Portuguese wine travel, the Port Harvest Tour is an all-inclusive vacation and once you've disembarked from the airplane, you will not touch your wallet again unless buying wine or gifts. We ensure every detail of your experience and maintain small group sizes, as well as providing our guests with singular opportunities to meet the winemakers, owners and/or managing directors of every Port house we visit.
Whether you're joining us to learn about Port and Douro wines for the first time or are seriously involved in consuming and/or collecting these extraordinary wines, we can promise that you'll exponentially expand your knowledge and tasting experience. You'll learn the difference between old socalcos, vinha ao alta, patamares, old vine field blend vineyards and those which are block planted. If you arrive not knowing the difference between a pipe of Port or a tonel or balseiros, we can assure all of these things will be clarified for you. That is just the beginning, and nobody does it better!
Our 2013 PORT HARVEST TOUR includes everything except airfare:
THE PREMIER PORT EXPERIENCE!