How I fell in love with Portugal’s wine country and other Portuguese tales [Vol 2. Douro]

cristina nogueras photography portugal douro

I had already shared how I was not expecting much on the wine front from Portugal before our visit. Shameful, I know. You may associate port wine with Porto but did you know that the grapes are actually harvested in the Douro region? In fact, if they are not from there, it’s not technically port wine. The process may slightly vary by the producer but in general, grapes are harvested and transported to Porto where they are stored for aging and eventually consumption. Also, there is a LOT more to this beautiful wine region than port wine, we tasted plenty of other varieties that were just absolutely wonderful.

For our trip, we decided to rent a car in order to travel through all of our stops:

Porto -> Douro -> Fatima -> Albufeira -> Lisboa

I 100% recommend renting a car if you can, as it not only gives you freedom from schedules but you can also explore at your own pace and change things up as you go if you so desire.

cristina nogueras photography portugal douro quinta nova

For our stay in Douro we stayed at Quinta Nova Nossa Senhora do Carmo, which you can see in this photo. When looking at where to stay in Douro, I saw plenty of gorgeous quintas in the region but I wanted to make sure we could stay in a quinta that offered wine tastings and actually had a vineyard. Our stay was short but wonderful. Due to time constraints, we actually did not leave the quinta once we got there and honestly have no regrets.

cristina nogueras photography portugal douro quinta nova wine and cheese vacation

We began our stay with a wonderful spread of ham and cheese and started tasting some of the wonderful selections from Quinta Nova right away. Their reserva was one of our favorites and definitely affordable considering the quality and taste, says the girl that is happy with a $10 bottle of wine at the liquor store, but you get it. 🙂

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My favorite part was walking through the vineyards, just me and Brian. There was not another soul in sight and the weather was absolutely perfect, not too hot or too cold. This region is truly a beauty and the landscape is breathtaking, unlike anything I had seen before. It’s also very calm, the kind of vibes you have to stop for and take a moment to really take it in because it’s a magical experience.

cristina nogueras photography portugal douro quinta nova

Quinta Nova offers a delicious dinner with a chef’s menu and of course, dedicated wine pairings. Each course was a unique experience and everything was purely exquisite. Dinner wouldn’t have been completed without an excellent dessert and of course, port wine.

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The breakfast selection the next day was also delicious but the best part was enjoying it all with a morning view. I mean, how often do we allow ourselves to not only enjoy breakfast time but enjoy it with this kind of view. Good coffee, good food and knowing that the day can only get better. That’s what vacation should feel like.

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You can never have enough of something wonderful, right? I would have loved to stay longer in this region and explore further. If you have the time, definitely recommend you explore other quintas and even take a boat through the river. Even if you are tight for time and can’t stay for the night, Douro is not far from Porto and you can do a day trip to get a taste of the magic (it’s only a little over an hour drive).

Stay tuned for more of my Portugal series and feel free to message me if you are planning to visit and have any questions about my experiences. 🙂

cristina nogueras photography portugal douro quinta nova

Wine, Cheese & Friends (Pasta, Shrimp & Hot Dogs too)

What do I love more than wine and cheese? Having wine and cheese with friends, old and new.

As you may or may not know (everyone’s busy, I get it) I have a new camera and of course, I’m eager to explore all the possibilities. It’s not as easy as it looks, I’ve yet to find that perfect light but I’m enjoying the journey.

Back to the wine and cheese.

I love the Holidays. Considering the crappy weather, it’s a season full of color and life that allows us to reconnect with people and gives us an excuse to put pretty things together. Seriously, think of all the things you do in preparation for the Holidays! I love the hustle, from getting the perfect gifts to finding the perfect outfit for your company’s Holiday party (which is tomorrow and I do not have).

holiday dinner setup red candles

I may have a passion for capturing beautiful moments, but my friend and old coworker Citlalic has a passion for creating them. Her house is full of exquisite details that come together to build a lovely home. She has the perfect amount of patience to make sure that everything is perfect, which I love to capture!

salami cheese gouda guacamole olives nuts dinner setup

I must say I am very proud of my two cheese picks, Nettle Meadow Kunik and Aged Gouda from Murray Cheese Bar. Boy, were they good. My worst nightmare has a name and that is “lactose intolerant”.

pigs in a blanket homemade

We also made pigs in a blanket! Not my best assembly, but that doesn’t affect the taste! Who knew this was so easy? Just cut little hot dogs and roll them with Pillsbury Crescent Rolls.

shrimp alfredo pasta

I look at this picture and I am hungry all over again. Citlalic cooked this delicious creamy shrimp Alfredo pasta with homemade sauce, props to her because I’m usually lazy and just buy the sauce at the store. Check out the recipe here.

holiday dinner setup red

I look forward to the day that I have the capabilities to set up a table like that. I don’t even own a table cloth at the moment. I miss my mom’s kitchen where I could find napkins of every color and glasses for any occasion. One day, Cristina, one day.

Happy Holidays!