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It is an undeniable fact: tourism in Portugal is on the up, and a big part of it is our country's wine tradition. Portuguese and foreigners are dazzled by the flavours, history, landscape and heritage associated with wine and its production in Portugal. The wines of the Douro and Alentejo regions have a strong presence at a national and international level, but the country has much more to show to those who come from abroad, or explore it, by traveling all over the country. Taking advantage of the holiday season, we decided to visit Ponte de Lima, to learn a little more about the Vinhos Verdes region, demarcated on 18 September 1908, which occupies the area known as Entre-Douro-e-Minho, the largest Portuguese demarcated region, in terms of surface area, and one of the largest in Europe. And there is no better place to learn about this region than the Centro de Interpretação e Promoção do Vinho Verde -CIPVV (Centre for Interpretation and Promotion of Vinho Verde).
Located in the historic centre of Ponte de Lima, the CIPVV is housed in the Casa Torreada dos Barbosa Aranha, built in the first half of the 17th century and featuring military architecture, shown by its quadrangular tower. The building’s medieval exterior hides a recent work from 2015, in which modern art, architecture and technology are used to charm its visitors. The modern and the traditional are thus merged into an innovative work and a commendable project of fundamental importance in the promotion of one of the most symbolic regional products of the country and one of the most beautiful regions of our territory. This year CIPVV won the regional prize in the category of Art and Culture of the Best Of Wine Tourism awards, which rewards business or institutions that stand out in terms of innovation and excellence, awarded by the Great Wine Capitals, devoted to promoting ten of the world's best wine regions.
We started by climbing to the first floor and exploring the permanent exhibition. In the first room, by moving an electronic timeline, we learned more about the history of the region and its wine, produced since ancient and Roman times. In the next room one can see the reasons of the region's wine quality. The granite soils and mild climate, with an Atlantic influence and high precipitation, are perfect for producing white wines and sparkling wines. Of course, the ingenuity of Man is fundamental, and the different traditional techniques of producing and transporting wine are other stars of the exhibition.
In the temporary exhibitions room, we were able to learn a little bit more about the houses with history, and their fine wines, from Quinta dos Paços and Casa do Capitão-mor, symbols of Barcelos and Monção, respectively. In the auditorium we also watched a short promotional film, and finally in the tasting room we were able to enjoy the light and fresh flavours of Vinhos Verdes from Adega de Ponte de Lima, but also from the Monção e Melgaço sub-region.
When we left the CIPVV, we were captivated by the region’s charms and flavours. It was time to put into practice what we learned, and what better way to do it than to have lunch in a restaurant in the historic centre of Ponte de Lima, eating rojões à moda minhota (pork cubes in Minho style), and savouring firsthand the white vinho verde from a local wine growing quinta, of the Loureiro variety, the most emblematic of the region. We left the town knowing that much remained to be seen, and that we will certainly return to take a wine tourism activity, to run alongside the local people in the centenary celebration of “Vaca das Cordas”, to experience the traditional festivities of the town, the Feiras Novas, or even, to be delighted with the Feira do Cavalo de Ponte de Lima (Horse Fair of Ponte de Lima).
Text and Photos by Carla Mota and Rui Pinto
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Centro de Interpretação e Promoção dos Vinhos Verdes:
Tags: VisitPorto, Centro de Interpretação de Promoção dos Vinhos Verdes, Vinho Verde, Best Of Wine Tourism, Great Wine Capitals Global Network