For The Love Of Port Tours 2016 2016-11-18T10:23:02+00:00

FTLOP Announces

2016 Portugal Wine Tours



The 2016 Tour Dates

Fortification Tour – May 15 – 22

Five Regions Tour – June 12 – 19

Port Harvest Tour 1 – September 11 – 18

Port Harvest Tour 2 – September 18 – 25 - SOLD OUT

Port Harvest Tour 2+  –  September 25 – October 2




image0022016 represents our twelfth consecutive year of guiding captivating oeno-tours and creating fun and highly educational programs in Portugal. Experience matters when it comes to providing our guests with bespoke vacations in our areas of expertise: Port, Madeira, Setubal and Vinho Verde. Each year we have managed to under-promise and over-deliver, to the delight of our guests, who bring their lofty expectations and depart Portugal simply amazed at how we continue to raise the bar every single year.

Having developed a loyal following amongst our guests, (>30% of our annual guests are repeat visitors, since year one) and extraordinary industry relationships within the aforementioned regions, last year we ventured out to explore five new wine regions throughout Central Portugal. This year we plan to add the Dão region to our repertoire.

There’s a reason that one of our 2016 tours sold out in November (2015) before we even had any idea where we’re going to visit and two other tours are already at least half way full … before tour dates had ever been made public. Simply put, it boils down to trust and experience. Our guests know that nobody does it better.  It remains our greatest challenge to continuously find ways to keep these tours fresh and exciting!

For our Five Regions Tour to be ¾ full at this stage of the year, after only one tour (in Central Portugal) under our belt, is astounding to both Mario and me and tells us we must be doing something right. By the time we all land in Portugal next summer, this will truly be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and remarkable vacation for our guests. We can’t wait!


A Brief Bio on Your Hosts



Mario Ferreira:  Mario is from Alcobaça, Portugal and majored in Social Communication and Marketing. From 1999-2004 he worked for the Port wine industry while living in the USA: having spent one year as “Sandeman Port Wine Ambassador” and followed by five years in the marketing department of the Port Wine Institute (IVP/IVDP).

In 2005, Mario decided to further explore adventures on the African continent and seek out business opportunities there as well. Nowadays, he spends most of his time traveling throughout a variety of countries in Africa, while consulting for a Spanish-based company (non-wine/beverage related). Also in 2005, Mario partnered with Roy to develop and co-host bespoke Port, Douro and Madeira wine and food explore-vacations that have begun to branch out to other regions of Portugal. As FTLOP Tour Director, Mario remains committed to FTLOP’s oenotourism program and together, he and Roy have brought more than two dozen groups to visit his country.





Roy Hersh:  Roy is considered one of the top Port and Madeira authorites in North America. His passion for Port began in 1983 and he finally realized his dream to visit Portugal in 1994, after which he started writing articles about it. In June 2003, Roy was one of just two Americans inducted into the Confraria do Vinho do Porto (Port Wine Brotherhood). To honor his oath to the Confraria, Roy quit his day job, launching For The Love Of Port newsletter in February 2004 and by the middle of the next year, his FTLOP website took off. Today, opt k-in newsletter recipients and subscribers hail from 78 countries.

Hersh’s experience in food and wine industry management spanned a career of more than three decades, after obtaining degrees from a culinary school in upstate NY and Hotel Management in FL. Roy is a passionate student of wine from around the globe. Since 1999, he has been a professional judge at prestigious wine competitions across North America and in Portugal. He has taught classes, presented seminars and written hundreds of articles on Port and Madeira for various wine websites, FTLOP, and print magazines such as Sommelier (now Somm) Journal and The World of Fine Wine.

Hersh travels extensively throughout the U.S. and Canada to promote the wines of Portugal. Roy and Mario’s annual adventures guiding once-in-a-lifetime “insider’s tours” presenting the formidable wine and food culture of the Douro Valley, island of Madeira and a wide variety of other Portuguese wine regions has gained media attention and a devoted following. When not involved in vinous escapades, Roy enjoys entertaining, and spending time at home with his wife, Dorene and daughter, Taylor.


Our Tours

The FTLOP group tours which began in 2005 typically range in size from 8 – 14 guests, plus Mario Ferreira and Roy Hersh are involved in guiding every tour.  Our long established connections within the Porto/Douro, Madeira, Setubal and Vinho Verde regions’ 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 entreposto of Vila Nova de Gaia and enchanting city of Porto. We also tour the volcanic mountainous terrain and sub-tropical island of Madeira, the Minho’s Vinho Verde DOC and an extremely diverse group of wine regions located in Central Portugal.

We were thrilled to combine a handful of new regions to our repertoire in Central Portugal last year. It will enable us to provide a fresh realm of possibilities for first time guests, and the ability to offer innovative itineraries for our many repeat clients who would like to discover more of Portugal’s wine and food cultural experiences. In 2016, we’ll add Dão into the mix and other regions in the future.

Our unique point of difference is not only the high caliber of wines or educational aspect of these bespoke week-long explorations, but stems from the pride we take in researching a wide range of authentic regional cuisine, top chefs and restaurants to delight the palates of the most discerning gastronomes.  Additionally, we introduce our guests to the esteemed individuals from the wine 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 guest’s –- year in and year out. We shall 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.

While the focus of our tours has always been Northern Portugal and Madeira, we began discussing expansion into other regions several years ago. During recent tours and email surveys, we asked some of our guests if they would consider joining us to explore wine regions in other parts of Portugal. The feedback was quite positive and we set the plan in motion and took our first group in 2015.

Remaining flexible right up until show time, we literally tailor our itineraries to the wish list of our clientele. This is just one of the many reasons we’ve developed such a loyal following. We are honored to have these guests join us for their annual vacations and we take this responsibility very seriously, trying to up the ante of our programs each and every year.





2016 Fortification Tour

May 15th – 22nd

 Porto/Vila Nova de Gaia – Douro – Madeira

Our FORTIFICATION TOUR offers a new adventure in 2016; although we rotate the scope, nature and venues of this tour annually. We have 3 distinct programs, each with their own selection of destinations. Within each of the variations-on-a-theme, the itineraries are always new, so our guests can choose which theme best fits their palate … yet all Fortification tours … include Madeira.

  • Porto/Gaia – Douro – Madeira = a focus on both Port & Madeira (since 2006)
  • Madeirathon = all Madeira, all the time, literally!
  • Lisbon – Setubal – Madeira = exploration of the capital city & Moscatel de Setubal, + Madeira




The 2016 Fortification Tour combines the best elements of exploring Porto/Gaia and the Douro wine region, plus the rugged charm and wood-aged wines produced on the island of Madeira. Since our very first Madeira-based tour a decade ago, this was the original plan for all Fortification Tour destinations and it did not change until 2014 with our first new itinerary billed as, “Madeirathon”.

Madeira is a sub-tropical archipelago located nearly 600 miles off the coast of North Africa, an island that I like to refer to as the “Hawaii of the Atlantic Ocean”. Our guests have truly enjoyed their experiences when joining us to discover Portugal’s oldest pair of fortified wine regions. Steeped in tradition, both areas provide unsurpassed splendor in the vineyards and some of the most age-worthy wines on the planet.

We create custom-made week-long excursions in which our guests visit the fraternal cities of Vila Nova de Gaia and Porto, to gain a historical perspective and enjoy some outlandishly opulent Port tastings before heading up river. The Douro is a wine region which must be seen to be believed, with vineyards situated on extremely steep slopes rising from the river. You will visit some of the premier properties in the region, and some that are typically off-the-radar for most Port enthusiasts (and new discoveries for all) while also enjoying authentic Douro cuisine and wines. We then head to Madeira to discover the island’s liquid assets, diverse culture, natural beauty, and formidable fine dining.




The rest of our vacation in Madeira is focused on providing fun and educational experiences, such as the possibility of a Madeira masterclass introducing all aspects of this esteemed beverage. You will meet the owners and winemakers at every property we visit and they will share extraordinary facets of the diamond that is Madeira, including tutored tastings of sensational wines, (young, older and ancient). By the end of the week, you’ll have tasted wines from all categories and most grape types.

You will explore several vineyards and have a clear understanding of their terroir, while covering a wide swath of the island away from Funchal’s center. Next up, is the rare opportunity for you to meet Madeira families without any involvement in commercial export sales. Off-the-beaten-path, to say the least. These families used to sell wine to other producers in order to supplement income from their day jobs. They’ve been able to retain superb Madeira from past generations in obscure cellars, in rarely visited parts of the island. These are exclusive contacts that have become our friends over the years and provide singular experiences for our guests. On a good day, they may even share some of their private stock, (still in cask) with unique examples of Verdelho, Terrantez and Malvasia.



The inspired blending skills of Ricardo Diogo Freitas, exhibited at Vinhos Barbeito


Our Fortification Tour package includes everything, except your airfare:

  • Renowned Port and Madeira expert Roy Hersh is joined by Mario Ferreira to personally host your lavish weeklong wine & dine vacation in Northern Portugal and the island of Madeira.
  • Transfers to/from our hotels: Porto International Airport and Funchal’s Madeira Airport plus transportation throughout your stay with us in Porto, the Douro Valley and Madeira.
  • 8 nights’ accommodations at impeccably chosen 4-5* properties in Porto, Douro & Funchal.
  • 20 Meals include all breakfasts (8), lunches (5) and dinners (7) once the tour begins.
  • All tips & taxes; there are never any hidden fees such as a “single’s supplement”
  • Inclusion of all wine and beverages during our VIP tastings and throughout lunch/dinner
  • Introduction to the key players within the Port & Madeira trade at every stop!




Old and ancient demijohns of Madeira





(Central Portugal)

June 12th – 19th

Alentejo – Dão – Lisboa – Setubal – Tejo


Our FIVE REGIONS TOUR is in its second year, so for us, it’s still an infant gaining its legs. However, the first one was such a huge success, that we plan to improve upon that initial experience and create a truly amazing tour in 2016.  Additionally, we will visit new properties and add a new region this year.

The five regions we will travel to, requires us to cover a considerable amount of territory, (starting in Lisbon and finishing our last night in Porto (which isn’t included in our region count). Please note the necessity of occasionally transferring to hotels which are closer to our visits, but we never spend less than two nights at any of the unique hotels during our journey. It’s all part of being an explorer!



The singular “Rebel” character of Luis Pato


Long before last year’s tour, Mario and I visited most of these wine regions, independently. We contacted principals of properties that we’ve either been to before, or quintas that earned reputations for the high quality of their wines and splendid hospitality. We shall continue to explore old and new destinations, while taking great pride in introducing our guests to exceptional wineries and authentic regional cuisine along the way. You will be privy to the cultural experiences and local flavor of these distinctive regions and appreciate being surrounded by spectacular photo-worthy panoramic vistas. These are dynamics that made our first Five Regions Tour, so exceptional and memorable.

Here is an independent report from one of our guests:



Leitão assado à Bairrada


Mario and I realize this may seem like a leap of faith on your part. However, guests who have joined us for any of our nearly thirty tours, (within eight Portuguese wine regions) would say that they’ve not only had a ton of fun, but thoroughly enjoyed the relaxed yet educational nature of our tours, focused on wine, food and Portuguese culture during their vacation. Before we announced our 2016 plans; without even knowing which regions we were going to visit, this tour was already three quarters of the way to being fully reserved by new and return guests. In fact, Mario and I strongly believe that the Five Regions Tour will quickly become one of our most popular tours of all. Come join the ultimate Portuguese wine adventure -- we promise you will have a remarkable and memorable escape!





Our Five Regions Tour includes everything … except airfare:

  • Renowned Portuguese wine expert Roy Hersh is joined by Mario Ferreira to personally. customize and host your luxurious weeklong vacation to experience 5 distinct wine regions.
  • Transfers to/from Lisbon & Porto Int’l. Airports and transportation throughout your stay with us.
  • 8 nights’ accommodations at an impeccably chosen and centrally located luxury property
  • 21 Meals include all breakfasts (8), lunches (6) and dinners (7) once the tour begins.
  • All tips & taxes; there are never any hidden or added fees such as a “single’s supplement”.
  • Inclusion of all wine and beverages during our VIP tastings and throughout lunch/dinner.
  • Introduction to the key players within the Portuguese wine trade at every stop.






What our clients have said about their excursions with us:

"The best international wine and food tour I’ve ever been on … a fantastic excursion into the universe of world class Ports and their producers."
"I enjoyed the group dynamic because we were able to share notes on our experiences and points of view about the food, wines etc. I also think it’s great because we are able to meet people from other places and make new friends. The group size was perfect."
"If you want to experience the culture, be touched by exceptional hospitality from people, see the beauty of the Douro Valley, hear the sounds of winemaking, and taste some incredible wines, then you must take this tour for you will be able to integrate all your senses. You will create memories that you can recall on those days when the world around you may not be so bright. This trip and the people will always be with me.” “The best international wine and food tour I’ve ever been on … a fantastic excursion into the universe of world class Ports and their producers."
"We were treated like VIP, like family. The experience is very personal and I feel during every visit, Roy and Mario over delivered. The wines we tasted, talks with the wine makers or owners of wineries are not accessible to most people, and that is what makes this tour so special and unique."
"I learned more in one week than the last several years combined. Truly an educational experience that even a knowledgeable Port or Madeira drinker would love, yet perfect for a novice at the same time."
"Every day was an incredible learning experience and the things I learned about Port and Madeira will never be forgotten. I have already decided to start planning to go on the trip next year."
"The tour was top notch and Roy and Mario provided an experience that was far above what I had expected. This is a trip you do not want to miss. I plan to go again as this was the trip of a lifetime."
"Your generosity and the quality of care from both of you were excellent. It was obvious that you were entirely at our service, and that you had done everything in your power to provide us with peak experiences. I can’t imagine kinder and more professional tour guides."
"I think a lot of people might shy away from these tours if they think they are not ‘into’ Port or Madeira enough. I definitely found myself questioning whether I was ready for such an immersion (literally), but in the end I’m very glad I did."
"Roy and Mario provided us with the opportunity to meet people, see places and taste wines that independent travelers and other wine tour companies simply do not have access to. If you are passionate about Port and Madeira, put your trust in these guys to give you an experience you will never forget."
"I try to temper my expectations so as not to be disappointed, but this was hard not to describe as ‘over the top’. At one point Roy said, ‘We try to under promise & over deliver’. If that is your goal, I thought this tour was a tremendous success."





Port Harvest Tour 1 (PHT1)

September 11th – 18th 2016

Vila Nova de Gaia – Porto – Vinho Verde – Douro





The PORT HARVEST TOUR 1 was wildly successful in 2015, as it was our first new program for the popular once-in-a-lifetime Port Harvest Tour series, now entering year twelve. Designed based on guest feedback, PHT1 surpassed our lofty expectations and delivered exactly what our guests had hoped to achieve during their bespoke week-long wine and dine vacation in Northern Portugal.

We provided a less intensive, ultra-fun experience encompassing Port and the Douro during harvest time. How does this differ from the PHT2, the identical type of tour we’ve successfully presented for many years? PHT1 was created for travelers seeking to join us for the first time, or those preferring a far more relaxed, culturally diverse and small-group vibe; while still offering the same level of hedonistic Port, Douro wine and gastronomic involvements found on our more hardcore tour.

We have learned that not everyone prefers the type of frenetic pace, long hours and sheer quantity of Port and Douro wines that ensue on our other Port Harvest Tour. So in 2016, the PHT1 will offer first time guests the exact same quality of wines and sophisticated visitations … in moderation. Overall, there will be two less quinta visits and a couple of meals where you may choose to opt-out during the week, in order to enjoy some extra down time. The later start times for morning visits allows you to sleep in and feel like you’re on a tranquil pleasure trip, able to “smell the coffee” and further enjoy the beauty that surrounds you!



Our 2015 PHT Group, After a Phenomenal Outdoor Tasting


Additionally, we select desirable tried-and-true 3 or 4-star hotels in Porto, while up river in the Douro Valley each day also begins with a sumptuous breakfast, and is replete with a swimming pool and exercise room that you’ll actually have time to take advantage of. Another perk of PHT1 is an early-mid September time frame, virtually guaranteeing the harvest will still be in full swing. That enables us to foot tread on grapes in lagar; a most memorable experience during every vintage year. Last but not least, the nature of this tour allows us to offer a more appealing tariff that we know you’ll appreciate.




The 2016 Port Harvest Tour 1 includes everything except airfare:

  • Renowned Port and Douro wine expert Roy Hersh along with Mario Ferreira, personally customize and host your exclusive weeklong small-group oeno-vacation.
  • Transfers to/from Porto International Airport
  • 8 nights’ accommodations at impeccably chosen Porto/Douro luxury properties
  • 21 meals include all breakfasts (8), lunches (6) and dinners (7) explained when booking
  • All tips & taxes; there are never any hidden fees such as a “single supplement”
  • Transportation throughout your stay with us in Northern Portugal
  • Inclusion of all wine and beverages during our VIP tastings and throughout lunch/dinner.
  • Introduction to the key players within the Port and Douro wine trade at every stop.



12th Annual

Port Harvest Tour 2 (PHT2)


September 18th – 25th 2016

Vila Nova de Gaia – Porto – Vinho Verde – Douro



Timing is everything!



PHT2+  Proviso:

The description on the Port Harvest Tour 1 explains some of the basic differences between it and the hard core PHT2+ tour. In order to “qualify” to join this year’s PHT2+ tour …

(A) Guests will have either joined us on a prior tour, where they fully understand the rigors of what is going to come at them in terms of the number of hours per day (early starts and late endings) and the sheer quantity of wines. The PHT2+ tour is not for “casual” oeno-tourism vacationers, as it’s far more like a fun, but ultra-intensive Port and Douro wine seminar for serious and hearty enthusiasts.

(B) Wine biz professionals or students, where individuals would have no issue with the number of Ports and non-fortified wines per day/night. The hours: we typically do not return to the hotel for 14 hours (+/- 90 mins.) after dinner. We are not trying to discourage prospective guests from joining us, but we must make sure potential clients know what to expect, before coming to Portugal.

(C) ALL potential guests for PHT2+ will need to have a phone screening with Roy, to discuss the scope and nature of the tour and determine if it’s right for you. We want to ensure that you will have a fabulous time in Northern Portugal. This is also a good time to ask Roy any questions you may have.




The Venerable Old-vine Field Blend Vineyard Known as Vinha Maria Teresa @ Quinta do Crasto







Port Harvest Tour 2+ (PHT2+)

September 25th – October 2nd 2016

Vila Nova de Gaia – Porto – Vinho Verde – Douro




Our 2016 PORT HARVEST TOUR 2+ (PHT2+) is identical to our regularly scheduled PHT2, the only difference being we will change up and not repeat that specific itinerary. As that particular tour sold out back in November 2015, a month before the dates were announced publicly, we created this tour to enable others who have expressed interest, to join us for a more rigorous harvest experience. A couple of our die-hard repeat clients are even considering joining us for back-to-back tours!




2016 represents our 12th consecutive year of organizing once-in-a-lifetime seminar-like Port tours for those who are seeking an intensive yet fun experience revolving around Port, Douro and Vinho Verde in the midst of the harvest activities. From learning the history to tasting nearly every category of Port, we gain loads of satisfaction planning itineraries for these extraordinary annual trips. You will encounter wood-aged Colheitas spanning decades (even centuries on some tours), to unparalleled horizontal and vertical tastings of Vintage Ports, LBV’s, Aged White Ports and lots more.

We love hosting guests from around the globe, initially introducing them to some of the top producers and wines that Vinho Verde has to offer, an hour or so outside of Porto.  Afterwards our focus is fixed on Vila Nova de Gaia and Porto, the centuries old sibling cities and historic commercial center of Port wine. The vast majority of the week is spent upriver amidst the grandeur and serenity of the Douro River Valley, one of the truly great wine regions of the world … and you will do so in style.

Come join Mario and Roy’s harvest adventures, there is truly nothing like it!




Francisco S. Ferreira Takes Us to School with an Amazing Array of Ports; Young, Old, Older and Wood-aged


In addition to providing tremendous insight on young, old and ancient Ports, the educational facet of the tour is just beginning. In recent years, the emphasis on presenting the best of the established Douro producers and focus on acquainting guests with the rising stars of the new Douro production, (and Port, of course) has increased. Our relationships with innovative culinary artists in Porto and the Douro Valley continue to blossom too, and you will take pleasure in food and wine pairings as harmonious as symphonies. After long days into nights of decadent vinous pleasure, you will return to replenish your energy in first class hotel accommodations. Have you ever tread on just picked grapes, thigh deep in a stone lagar? Not just a photo opportunity, it’s actually a time-honored tradition. There is absolutely nothing like the feeling of grapes squishing between your toes and beneath your feet.

Below, you’ll find a couple of photos from our recent 2015 Port Harvest Tour. Trust us … you will never forget your first time!


A light lunch is served while we cruise on the Douro River.

A Light Lunch is Served While We Cruise on the Douro River


Moments before our tasting at Quinta do Crasto.

Moments before our tasting at Quinta do Crasto



“As we strive to satisfy the needs and desires of first time guests every bit as much as our “regulars” … the ante must continue to be raised so these tours remain fresh for our guests and your two co-hosts.”



Constantly delivering new and unique oeno-touristic experiences every year is our greatest challenge and a dynamic that we thrive on!  After all, necessity is the mother of invention and refining our tours by listening closely to guest feedback is exactly what helps us to improve, and ultimately makes our tours so much fun and keeps our clients coming back year after year. We have dozens of loyal guests that have joined us for a second tour, while some have returned as many as five and even ten times.


We will never take this for granted!



A vertical tasting of Vintage Ports at Quinta da Roêda’s brand new visitor center


During this year’s PHTs, some of the producers we visited for the first time (with a group) have been around for many years, while others were growers-turned-producers and are amongst the ongoing renaissance in the Douro. We remained committed to sample as many of the recent, highly regarded 2011 Vintage Ports as possible during our tours, in addition to some unique comparative vertical and horizontal tastings that were eye opening, in contrast with a number of old Ports we tasted, even a few dating back to the 19th century. This doesn’t happen on every tour, but we do our best.

Like all of our Portuguese wine travel, the Port Harvest Tour 2+ will be an all-inclusive vacation and once you’ve disembarked from the airplane, you will not touch your wallet/purse again unless buying gifts. We ensure every detail of your experience is well considered and maintain small group sizes.


Grape picking at Quinta do Vallado

Grape picking at Quinta do Vallado




Whether you’re joining us to learn about Port and/or Douro wines for the first time or are seriously involved in consuming and collecting these beautiful wines, we can promise that you’ll exponentially expand your knowledge and tasting experience. You’ll learn the viticulture and the difference between vineyards situated with old socalcos terracing, vinha ao alto, patamares plus vineyards planted to old vine field blends and some that are block planted. If you arrive not knowing the difference between pipes of Port, or toneis or balseiros, we can assure all of these things will be clarified for you. If you would like to hone your tasting ability, please let us know, so we can help to improve your technique.

That’s just the beginning, as you will depart with a deep understanding of both viti / viniculture as well as the various categories of Port and all shades of fantastic Douro wines. Our mission is to create a tour in which you will not only have an extraordinary amount of fun, make new friends, taste wines you will long remember and meet the principal players of great old and new Port shippers and Douro wine producers … but our primary goal is to provide you with an incredible education during a memorable week long vacation!


Our 2016 Port Harvest Tour 2+ includes everything except airfare:

  • Renowned Port expert Roy Hersh is joined by Mario Ferreira to personally customize and host your exclusive weeklong Port and Douro wine immersion
  • Transfers to and from Porto International Airport
  • 8 nights’ accommodations at impeccably chosen Porto and Douro hotel properties
  • 21 meals including all breakfasts (8), lunches (6) and dinners (7) w/ the exception of one lunch (the first Sunday). The diversity of dining venues is as impressive as the wine
  • All tips & taxes; there are never any hidden fees such as a “single’s supplement”
  • Transportation throughout your stay with us in Northern Portugal
  • Inclusion of all wine & beverages during our VIP tastings and all lunches and dinners
  • Introduction to the key players within the Port, Douro and Vinho Verde wine trade at their lodges, Quintas, restaurants and homes.





The Ultimate Port Experience!

For more information or reservations by email:  [email protected]