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Text and photos by Rita Branco
If there is an expression to define Casa do Rio Wine Hotel, the expression is: "we are at peace… with nature".
This is the feeling that came to my mind when I started to go down the small, narrow road surrounded by olive trees, which led me from the EN 222 towards the Douro River, the vineyards ... and Casa do Rio.
But the best was yet to come.
When I look straight at Casa do Rio, I can perfectly understand why in less than a year it had already received the award in the category "Sustainable Wine Tourism Practices".
Casa do Rio, embedded in a hillside on the banks of the upper Douro
This prize is awarded by the Great Wine Capitals Global Network, an international cooperation network made up of the following cities/regions: Adelaide, South Australia, Bilbao/Rioja, Bordeaux, Cape Town/Cape Winelands, Mainz/Rheinhessen, Mendoza, Porto, Napa Valley/San Francisco, Valparaiso/Casablanca Valley and Verona. Porto, in this case, represents the wines of the regions of Douro, Porto and Vinho Verde.
It seems to me that this building was literally and slightly embedded in the landscape.
Without harming absolutely anything around.
The swimming pool overlooks the majestic Douro valley
With the vineyards around and an orchard of orange trees ahead until you reach the river.
The materials used for the stairs, walkways and others, are stones and indigenous woods.
With little intervention on the grounds of Quinta do Orgal, the building of Casa do Rio, just landed on a space and stones that were already there. Custom-built, as if it was embraced by the vineyards around
A brilliant work of architecture by Francisco Vieira de Campos, the same one who designed the Quinta do Vallado Wine Hotel, which produces the wines that bear the same name.
It was precisely because Quinta do Vallado needed to extend its area of vineyards, which in 2009 acquired Quinta do Orgal in the Upper Douro in Vila Nova de Foz Côa.
A fantastic place on the banks of the Douro River. Therefore, also decided to create an extension of the hotel Quinta do Vallado. Then in 2015 comes, Casa do Rio, a very special and unique place for wine tourism lovers.
The hotel only has 6 bedrooms facing the Douro River, comfortable and with good taste in decoration, in full harmony with nature.
One of the bedrooms
The common areas such as living rooms, dining room and the kitchen, makes us feel like we are in our own home.
And that’s the idea. As the director Claudia Ferreira and all the staff told me: "feel like you're in your own home, because this is like our home".
And so the service is very special without being formal.
Besides staying there in the spaces of the house, and outside, only taking advantage of the synergy of nature to relax, the hotel has various activities around wine, as wine tastings, visit to Quinta do Vallado to learn the production process of wine and vineyard tours. In addition to sailing, nature trails, visit the ruins and the Museum of Foz do Côa. I took every chance to photograph the beauty of that landscape. A tip for those who are photography lovers too.
From the kitchen of Casa do Rio, comes delights made by the young and talented chef Ana Rita, who prepares much of their dishes and delicacies based on products grown right there in the garden and the orchard of the hotel.
The breakfasts are an inspiration to start the day
And the dinners draw inspiration from the tradition of the Portuguese gastronomy paired with the wines of Quinta do Vallado.
And now is possible to know the "Upper Douro", the first wine, the result of organic vineyards right there from Quinta do Orgal.
All these reasons, coupled with the immensity of the Douro landscape, the silence and tranquility, make Casa do Rio Wine Hotel, an unique place. An experience for wine and nature lovers.
Casa do Rio Wine Hotel