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Antonio Saraiva
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President of the Association of Port Wine Companies
My Road to Happiness… between the vineyards of the Douro Valley

Antonio Saraiva holds a degree in oenology from his years in Bordeaux, but he has spent most of his life in the city of Porto and in the Douro Valley. Both knowledgeable and passionate about this valley, which is listed as a Unesco World Heritage site, he gives us some insider tips.

I was born into a winemaking family from Douro and, for as long as I can remember, I have always loved walking through vineyards. My grandfather would say to me: "To make good wine, you have to plant in the right place: where the grapes drink up the sun and eat the dust." I’ve never forgotten that. My childhood was divided between Porto, where I went to school, and Pinhão, where I spent weekends and holidays. These two places illustrate the Douro Valley, one of the most beautiful in the world. In this Road to Happiness, I invite you to discover the river that flows between magnificent quintas…

Relais & Châteaux proposes its Routes du Bonheur for your inspiration: they are suggestions of itineraries that you can adapt to your preferences and desired experiences. Our advisors are at your disposal to individualise your routes and help you make reservations at our properties.
Example for a four-night stay from €978*
* Minimum indicative rate per person, subject to availability, on the basis of a double room with double occupancy, including accommodation, breakfast and dinner (menu, without beverages) in the properties suggested for the itinerary.
Activities on site and nearby must be reserved by you.

My Route du Bonheur
Step 1: 2 days, 2 nights

The Yeatman

The hotel that symbolises Porto and its history – Defining a destination
The Yeatman
This superb hotel is only a few hundred metres from my office and I go there regularly to meet clients. From the hotel you can enjoy an incredible view over both the city and the river. A library, an outdoor pool, a spa that offers wine-based treatments and a croquet pitch round off the flawless decor. And last but not least, the wine cellar adjoining the restaurant holds some 25,000 bottles, including the finest port wines.

Close to the property...

The Lello bookshop

Behind its neo-Gothic facade, this superb bookshop is a sheer delight. Opened in 1906 at 144 Rua das Carmelitas, in the university district, Lello was ranked in the top three most beautiful bookshops in the world by the British newspaper The Guardian. After leafing though a few books, you can enjoy a coffee in the light from the vast glass roof. Around the winding staircase you will find books in several languages and translations of the greatest Portuguese writers. Poetry readings and exhibitions are regularly held here. More than just a bookshop, Lello is a place for the arts.

A visit to the Rozès wine warehouses

Although remains of amphorae and vats, some dating back as far as the 3rd century, have been found in the Douro region, the "port wine" designation dates back only to the 17th century. The Rozès company was founded in 1855. Our wines are known all over the world for their elegance and balance. By prior arrangement, we offer individual guided tours of our warehouses, led by an oenologist who organises tastings. Our warehouses are located in Porto’s Vila Nova de Gaia neighbourhood, inside former mines hollowed into the granite, overlooking the river.

Rozès wine warehouses

Serralves Foundation

I particularly like to walk in the grounds of this contemporary art museum. With a formal garden, a small artificial lake and surprising statues, the 18-hectare grounds would practically be worth the visit on their own. Inside, the museum is decorated in art deco style, and hosts temporary exhibitions of avant-garde artists, concerts and dance shows. The museum also houses a large collection of contemporary artworks. Antoni Tapiès and many other famous artists have exhibited here.

Serralves

We can advise you on booking your route. Contact central reservations :

1 800 735 2478

Indicate the code : SARAIVA

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Step 2 : 2 days, 2 nights

Casa da Calçada

Gourmet & Golf
Casa da Calçada
This splendid, lemon-yellow hotel overlooks the river. Over the years, the building, which is now listed, has played host to soldiers, artists, intellectuals and major political figures. The neoclassical architecture was completely restored in 2001. I have come here so often that I know nearly every member of the staff! A real pleasure. You can choose between sampling wines from the estate, fishing, or playing a round on the 18-hole golf course.

On the route...

Lamego and its impressive steps

My grandfather was the mayor of the small neighbouring town of Pinhão. We often had family picnics in the woods around the Lamego shrine. The two monumental flights of steps, 686 in all, were at that time a pilgrimage site. Although we were children, we knew very well that we couldn’t run up and down the steps. You still saw women, dressed in black, climbing the steps one-by-one on their knees. As impressive as they are, for me, these steps remain a place of suffering.

Octopus fillets and a glass of wine in Régua

Located on Travessa Branca Martinho, in Peso da Regua, the family restaurant Cacho d’Oiro becomes my "canteen" as soon as the grape harvest begins. I have lunch there nearly every day with my friends. The menu boasts some 40 dishes but I almost always choose their octopus fillets, which are quite simply delicious! From time to time I also drop in for a glass of wine at Castas e Pratos, a tapas bar located in Régua train station. In a very pleasant setting, it offers a fine selection of wines produced in the valley, smoked meat and good cheeses.

La Casa do Douro, Peso da Régua

Built in 1944, this immense art deco building is the administrative headquarters of the Association of Wine Growers of the Douro Region. Stop to admire the five gigantic chandeliers and the magnificent modern stained-glass windows, produced by the artist Lino Antonio, which tell the story of the wine making process. Peso da Régua has long been considered the gateway to the vineyards. This is where the isolated quintas loaded their wine barrels bound for Porto. The very opulent Casa do Douro is above all a reminder that Douro’s 45,000 hectares of vineyard are divided between some 30,000 winemakers… So many small producers, each creating their own wines.

La Casa do Douro

Solar de Mateus, Vila Real

The palace of the counts of Vila Real is worth visiting, both for its interiors and its splendid gardens. This baroque-style palace was built in the first half of the 18th century. Upstairs, a nice little museum holds some copper engravings by Fragonard. A chapel and a cellar complete the group of buildings. I am well acquainted with Count Fernando de Albuquerque, who lives in the palace and supplies his grapes to the Rozès company. Each year, I go to the palace for the ceremony for the Dom Diniz prize, one of the country’s most prestigious literary prizes.

Solar de Mateus

We can advise you on booking your route. Contact central reservations :

1 800 735 2478

Indicate the code : SARAIVA

Calling from another country ? Click here

Texts : © Guides Gallimard