Port wine... how important is it ?

Port wine was, and is, a key product for the National economy and even more a symbolic asset that represents Port througout the world.

The designation Port wine appeared during the second half of the 17th century due to an incredible expansion of Douro viticulture and a rapid growth in wine exports.

It all began in 1680, on that time there were political diferences between the french prime minister, Colbert and King Charles II from UK.

These political diferences led both countries to the Augsburg battle in 1688, forcing the british royalty to send merchants seeking for alternative wine sources, Italy, Spain but most of all the North of Portugal.

As the brithish people´s taste started to become more sofisticated, the merchants went into the core of the Douro valley where the quality was amazing.

In 1703 the Methuen treaty, for the wine exports Portugal was paying 2/3 of the exportation fees to U.K. while on the other hand Portugal was buying the textiles from the british.

Between 1710 and 1740, the Port era, the ships departed from Porto, that was a very important seaport located in the mouth of the Douro river heading towards England and abroad.
In England there were merchants with wagons pulled by horses waiting to load the oak casks, afterwards they would go to the castles and in the private cellars or warehouses the merchants staff would made the bottling.
Port was not a nobility drink, people drank Port in the taverns with a mug directly from the casks.

Elderberry and sugar were added to wine and everyone wanted to become a grape grower, so the quality decreased.
In order to stop with a lack of both quality and territorial coordination, in 1756 the portuguese prime minister, the Marquis de Pombal, ordered the distribution of 335 milestones along 250.000 hects.

Nowadays there are 45700hects cultivated and 39100 grape growers, Port is strictly controlled by the Port wine Institute inspectors and thousands of chemical analysis annualy made, before each Port producer gets the bottling approval.