Ever heard of Vila Nova de Gaia? A hillside town that sits just across the river from central Porto in northern Portugal, it’s where port wine has been made for centuries. Now a cluster of old port cellars has become a massive new complex celebrating Portuguese wine – and trust us, it’s an essential stop for lovers of good booze.
World of Wine (WoW) has a mission as colossal as its 35,000-square-metre footprint: to tell the story of Portuguese wines through the history and heritage of the country’s various wine regions. You’re invited to travel through Portugal’s wealth of vineyards, grape varieties, soils, climates, altitudes, landscapes and winemaking techniques – all brought to life by documentaries about producers around the country and recreations of typical houses from each region.
The six (count ’em!) interactive museums that explore not only wine but also the industries around it, from cork to glass. It’s the first time Portuguese wine has got its own space in Vila Nova de Gaia, which already has 16 visitor centres focused solely on port.
There are also nine eateries – restaurants, wine bars and cafés – plus a wine school, shops, an art gallery and an event space. Oh, and did we mention the chocolate factory? The Chocolate Story section of the site will include live demos of transforming cocoa beans into chocolate, as well as revealing the crucial role Portugal played on getting Europe hooked on the sweet stuff.
The whole thing is clustered around a main square, with awe-inspiring views over the colourful houses of Porto’s Ribeira neighbourhood and the double-decker Luís I bridge.
A second phase, which includes the new Porto Fashion & Fabric Museum, is due to open in November.
This epic undertaking, costing €105 million in all, has been opened by The Fladgate Partnership: the group that owns the venerable port houses Taylor’s, Croft and Fonseca as well as the nearby Yeatman and Infante Sagres hotels.
Essentially, it’s a whole new mini-neighbourhood devoted to food, drink and local culture. So if you needed another reason to (re)visit Portugal’s stunning second city, here it is. Cheers!
Here’s what you need to know about travel to Portugal right now.
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