The Douro Valley is one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world, and one of the most historic (it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the oldest demarcated wine region in the world). As the Douro River meanders its way toward the Spanish border, the hillsides that flank it are covered with terraced vineyards, which produce the grapes for one of the world’s greatest dessert wines, Port. Despite its natural beauty, though, it’s long been a difficult place for wine travelers to get to, much less stay.
Thankfully that’s changing, most recently with the opening this summer of the Six Senses Douro Valley resort, a 57-room historic estate complete with spa, outdoor yoga pavilion (why not?) and three restaurants. What’s particularly interesting is that, rather than a sommelier, the wine program here is headed up by two of the Douro’s most talented young women winemakers, Sandra Tavares da Silva of Wine & Soul and Francisca van Zellar of Quinta Vale D. Maria. I chatted with them about what makes the Six Senses wine program different, and what to do while visiting the Douro.
It’s unusual for a hotel to hire two winemakers to run its wine program—why do it?