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Some people like museums, others architecture, for me it is food. And what better way to get to know a city and its people than through its food. Every time I travel internationally, I take at least one day to do a local food tour. While in Porto, Portugal this past week, that was no exception. But, I loved my tour so much I went on a second one the next day with the same company. And that is why Taste Porto is the Please The Palate pick of the week. Located in the Northwest of Portugal, Porto is the second largest city in Portugal with a population of approximately 214,000 people. Famous for is Port wines, Porto was a forgotten second city of Europe. However, in the past few years, Porto has exploded and is a popular tourist destination. Knowing I was going to be in Porto for a couple days, I immediately googled "food tours Porto" to see what would come up. One of the first companies to pop-up was Taste Porto, offering local walking food tours with passionate local guides. Taste Porto was started by three friends, two natives from Porto and an American, who wanted to share their love for Porto and the cuisine of Porto.
This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.
While watching the Red Carpet during the Golden Globes the other night, I was motivated by what actress Natalie Portman said: “We have realized the scope of what we have lost, of the creative contributions of people who have been pushed out of the [film] industry. And when we think of other industries and what women have been pushed out of and the contributions we have lost because of that…it has to change; it is time to change.”
It had me thinking of the wine industry and the contributions women have made and will continue to make. I thought about some of the women that I met on my trip to Porto and Douro recently.
For such an historical region, with wine production dating to the 18th century when it was noted as the first demarcated region in the world, it has been dominated by men. But I learned an interesting fact: A woman is the person considered the leader in winemaking innovations and one of the leaders in the history of the Douro Valley.
A Ferreirinha (1811-1896), born Antónia Adelaide Ferreira, was the first woman to head a Port company after inheriting vineyards from her family. Widowed at 33 years of age, she became the executive of the estates and is attributed with leading the cultivation of Port wine. During the time of phylloxera, which destroyed many of her own vineyards, she traveled to England to learn modern techniques to fight it and brought American rootstock back to Portugal. She also learned winemaking processes that she incorporated back in Portugal.
Though A Ferreirinha is the first woman of Port and her contributions to the industry are ever-lasting, there are many women working there today who are also contributing to the future of Portuguese wine. Here are the women I met on my trip:
Ana Paula Filipe Castro of Quinta das Chaquedas
I had the pleasure to visit Ana Paula at her home in the heart of Douro, approximately three kilometers from Peso da Regua. Ana Paula Filipe Castro was working as a lawyer in Porto when she and her husband, a lieutenant colonel in the military, purchased property in the Douro. They started with six hectares with existing vines and built their home on the property. Ana Paula, her husband and their three daughters moved into the house in 2006 and their first vintage was 2010. They purchased 14 additional hectares in Pinhao, a warmer area to the east.
This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register. To me, the best way to get to know a county and its culture is through its food and wine. Local ingredients and dishes, the indigenous grape varieties and winemaking processes, they all tell so much about a culture, its history and present-day. So, on my first trip to Portugal, specifically to the city of Porto, I dove right in. Located in Northern Portugal, along the Douro river, Porto is the second largest city in Portugal, after Lisbon. From the cobblestone streets to the tiled houses to the food and wine, it is no wonder that Porto was classified as a Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 1996 and recently awarded The Best European Destination by the Best European Destinations Agency. Porto is flanked by the Atlantic Ocean on the west and the vineyards in the Douro to the east. The cuisine of Porto uses its natural resources, which include fresh seafood and meats. And there are the sweet desserts, many of which are made with what was described to me as just “sugar, sugar, sugar and eggs, eggs, eggs.”