This past summer, I had the insanely cool opportunity to travel to Minho Portugal for a press trip with Vinho Verde.
I know I probably just threw out a lot of terms that you might not be familiar with right off the bat—where’s Minho Portugal? What’s a press trip?
Hopefully, if you’ve been following me for a little while, you already know what Vinho Verde wine is though. 😉
Minho Portugal is a historic region in northern Portugal, and it’s also where Vinho Verde wine is grown and made.
Vinho Verde is also a region, as well as a commission and organization that regulates the production and marketing of Vinho Verde wines. They aim to protect the regional and national heritage that makes up the Vinho Verde Controlled Appellation of Origin (CAO) and the Minho Geographic Indication (GI).
In order for a wine from the Minho Region to be called a Vinho Verde wine and have the Vinho Verde logo on their wine label, that wine has to pass rigorous testing and follow certain protocols, like only using grapes that are varietals indigenous to the region.
Vinho Verde has been a fabulous brand partner that I’ve been working with for several years now. Last year during the panny, I even did a whole Portuguese menu with them where I cooked up Portuguese dishes and paired them with Vinho Verde wines since I was supposed to go to Portugal in 2020 (but wasn’t able to for obvious reasons).
Fast forward to 2021, and I finally got to visit Portugal! And the fact that I got to go with Vinho Verde made it such a special experience.
It’s one thing to work with a brand and try their wines at home, but it’s a whole other thing to really envelop yourself in the history, culture, and experience of the brand. After learning so much about Vinho Verde wines I feel so much more equipped to share their story and their distinct wines with you!
Vinho Verde has produced wine for over 2,000 years, making it one of the oldest wine regions in Portugal.
And while you’ll often find websites saying that it means “green wine,” it doesn’t! Vinho Verde is named after the many shades of green in the region.
Demarcated in 1908, Vinho Verde produces predominantly white wine, as well as red, rosé, sparkling, and brandy.
With over 16,000 grape growers in the region and 1,400 wine brands, Vinho Verde is known for its young, fresh, and bright white wines with a low alcohol percentage.
But you might be surprised to know that some of their more sophisticated varietals can be complex, full-bodied, and have great aging potential.
If you’re into wine, your next questions are going to be about temperatures and soil. 😉 Vinho Verde experiences mild temperatures with no large swings (unlike my hometown, Napa, where the diurnal shift can be a difference of 40 degrees).
The region receives heavy rainfall, the soil is mostly granitic, and the Minho River brings high minerality, which you definitely taste in the white wines. Mountain ranges also add altitude, so you won’t be surprised to find that there are 9 different subregions, each with its own characteristics.
We did a road trip from Porto to visit several different regions, including Ave, Basto, Amarante, Moncao e Maglaco.
Vinho Verde Varietals
85% of Vinho Verde’s production is white wine, so that’s what we focused on tasting during most of the trip (though I also love their rosés and sparkling!).
Here’s a quick overview of the different varietals:
One of my favorite varietals from Vinho Verde! There are usually some delicious fruit notes, like pineapple, banana, mango, or passion fruit.
Alvarinhos tend to be more full-bodied and can be aged. I love their complexity.
Loureiro has floral notes to it and was another favorite of mine. We tried some Loureiro grapes straight off the vine and I could not believe how delicious they were! They were so floral and sweet. I wish I could buy them at the grocery store and just eat them like candy.
Trajadura tends to be low acidity and works well in white blends, with notes of pear and citrus blossom.
Azal tends to have the highest acidity, often with citrus or lemon notes.
Avesso is full-bodied and lower in acid than other grapes in Vinho Verde. You’ll find tropical and stone fruit fragrances in these wines, and they can also be suitable for aging.
Arinto is grown throughout Vinho Verde as well as other parts of Portugal and has citrus with some bitter notes on the finish.
Vinho Verde’s white wines pair well with what you’d typically pair whites with—seafood, chicken, etc. But I’ve found I enjoy pairing them with other foods as well.
Especially if you’re reaching for a more complex Alvarinho, it can go nicely with a lot of holiday meals—think a casserole for Easter, Turkey for Thanksgiving, and a honey-baked ham for Christmas.
I also love the rosés from Vinho Verde—they’re so crisp and refreshing. These pair great with pasta and pizza. Mmm.
You can find Vinho Verde wines in the United States—I’ve seen them at stores like Trader Joe’s and Total Wines, and they’re usually very reasonably priced, around $15 a bottle.
Alright, now that you’ve familiarized yourself a bit more with what Vinho Verde has to offer, let’s get into the specifics of where we visited during our press trip.
All of these Quintas allow for people to book tastings with them, so if you’re heading to Portugal you could absolutely do an incredible wine tasting trip and follow our itinerary.
So you can consider this post your Minho travel guide, specifically focused on experiencing Vinho Verde wines!
Minho Portugal Vinho Verde Press Trip Itinerary
Vinho Verde Press Trip Day 1
Casa do Vinho Verde
We started our trip off in Porto (if you’re looking to head to the Minho region, Porto is the nearest airport), and enjoyed a tasting at Casa do Vinho Verde.
They have an absolutely stunning garden area that overlooks the Douro River—definitely ask to book an outdoor tasting here!
Quinta da Aveleda
Next, we made our way north and spent an afternoon at Quinta da Aveleda.
They have an absolutely stunning property, with an incredible sprawling garden that you can tour.
They’ve also been hosting summer night events with different themes, like concerts on their grounds or a pink party with rosé.
Their estate is stunning and they make beautiful wines as well as brandy.
Quinta das Arcas
Quinta das Arcas was where I tried Loureiro grapes off the vine and it changed my life, lol.
We enjoyed a really nice tasting here and tried some young vs old Alvarinhos (the young ones tend to be more bright with pear notes, and the aged ones more tropical fruit notes).
You can also book a fun jeep tour of the vineyards here, which I highly recommend.
Quinta da Lixa and Wine dinner at Monverde Hotel
To wrap up our first day exploring Vinho Verde, we had an absolutely incredible wine pairing dinner at Monverde Hotel.
This hotel is amazing, btw. You can read my full Monverde Wine Experience Hotel review here for all the details!
We got to sit down with the winemaker here and try different Quinta da Lixa wines that were hand-selected to go with our many courses. I was in heaven.
Vinho Verde Press Trip Day 2
Monverde Hotel Wine Experience
We started day two with a really fun experience called “Winemaker for a Day,” at Monverde Hotel.
We tasted five different white single varietals, learning more about each one as we went. Then, we were able to make our own blend out of the varietals we chose.
My blend endedd up being 50% Trajadura, 25% Loureiro, and 25% Alvarinho. I even got to cork it and make my own What The Fab Wine label and everything.
Tasting and lunch in Amarante City
Next up, we headed over to Amarante, which is a gorgeous old town full of charm, situated right by the river.
We were able to do a tasting at Espaço Dólmen with several different producers, including Agrimota, Casa Vila Verde, Jose Maria da Fonseca, Viniverde, Costa & Filhos, and Manuel.
Afterward, we walked over to Casa da Calçada, an incredibly beautiful hotel and restaurant to have a lunch + wine pairing with wines from Quinta da Calçada.
The views, the wine, and the food were all to die for. I didn’t know this at the time when we were dining there, but it’s a Michelin star restaurant. Well, it shows!
10/10 recommend coming here for the tasting menu + wine pairing add-on.
Quinta de Santa Cristina
We then made our way to Quinta de Santa Cristina, where we were given a tour of the winery and vineyards, and soaked up some beautiful views.
Vinho Verde Press Trip Day 3
Visit, lunch and tasting at Quinta de Soalheiro
On our last day of the press trip, we had an absolutely epic tasting at lunch at Soalheiro.
Their property is totally stunning, and they have so many fun things to check out around their property.
One thing that I was super thrilled to check out was their wine pergolas, which is a traditional way of growing wine in Portugal in this epic archway where the grapes hang down. It was SO cool.
Quinta de Soalheiro also has an amazing area for tastings with such beautiful views. I really enjoyed their wines—they’re an old favorite of mine as I’ve been drinking their wine for years since I first started partnering with Vinho Verde.
We also had an amazing lunch here, paired with more wine (of course) as well as tea from herbs grown onsite. Everything we ate, from the salad to the sausage, was grown on the property.
You can book a tasting and lunch with them too, and I highly recommend this experience.
Adega de Monção
Before heading back to Porto, we stopped at Adega de Monção for one final tasting, where we started with some delicious sparklings and learned a bit of history about the region.
That was our full Vinho Verde press trip itinerary! It was absolutely incredible.
Also, if you’re thinking, “Dang, that seems like a lot of wine,” and wondering how I managed to drink so much considering I’m such a lightweight, the answer is: I got really good at spitting.
There was one day where we tasted 50 or 60 different wines, so spitting was an absolute must! After I practiced a bit I got pretty comfortable doing it—minus a couple mishaps where I drooled on myself or was over-confident and splashed myself lol.
If you’re planning a trip to Porto and love white wines and rosés, you absolutely have to make your way up to Minho Portugal to visit some Vinho Verde wineries.
It can be quite hot in the summer—we were there in August and there were definitely some days in the high 90’s where we were melting. So I’d say the best time to visit would be in the late spring or early fall.
If you’re planning a trip to Portugal, Porto and Vinho Verde are not to be missed!
P.S. I’m actually planning a trip to Lisbon for this year—if you have any recs please shoot them my way!
Northern Portugal is a mountainous region known for national parks and growing wine.
Yes, Minho Portugal is worth visiting, especially if you are a white wine lover and want to experience Vinho Verde wines.
2-3 days would be enough time to visit Minho Portugal and experience different wineries and parts of the region.
Don’t miss my other Portugal travel guides here!