Discover The Lesser-Known Wine Region Sommeliers Recommend Visiting In 2024

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douro river and sloped terraces

Summer is quickly approaching and the time to plan your next big getaway has officially arrived! This year, sommeliers and wine enthusiasts are turning their attention to one of Europe’s most beautiful hidden gems, the Douro Valley.

Located in northern Portugal, about 2 hours from Porto, this stunning region is the oldest demarcated wine region in the world, but has only been on the wine tourism radar for the past two decades. Once overshadowed by more prominent European wine destinations like Bordeaux and Tuscany, the Douro Valley is currently gaining recognition for its unique varietals and expanding roster of options.

Chicago Sommelier Joseph Lapi believes this destination is going to be the hot ticket in 2024 thanks to its “unique terroir, quality wines, value, and growing recognition.”

“The region’s steep slopes and hot climate are ideal for growing a variety of indigenous grape varieties, which are used to produce rich, full-bodied wines with bold fruit flavors and a distinct minerality,” Lapi told Forbes. “In 2024, the regions exhibiting great value will shine.”

READ NEXT: The 12 Best Douro Valley Wineries To Visit In 2024

douro river valley and hills

The Douro Valley’s claim to fame lies primarily in its production of Port wine, but this stunning wine country has so much more to offer. The region is home to an array of family-owned wineries that produce rich and diverse table wines, from robust reds to crisp whites.

Adam Diaz, wine director at The Press Room in Chicago recently commented on the region’s growing popularity. “The Douro Valley is known for more than just Port wines now — they’ve got some great reds and whites and you can enjoy vineyards with amazing views,” the sommelier said.

The terroir here is unique, featuring steeply terraced vineyards that cling to the slopes of the Douro River, creating a dramatic backdrop for wine tours and tastings. Sommeliers and wine critics alike have praised the valley’s innovative winemakers, who blend traditional practices with modern techniques to create wines that are both distinctive and exquisite.

quinta do tedo
Quinta do Tedo

Douro Valley wineries offer a range of experiences with family-owned operations like Quinta do Vallado that date as far back as 1716 to the more modern Quinta da Roêda, a quinta owned by Croft. Perhaps the most interesting of these is Quinta do Tedo, owned by a Frenchman from Burgundy’s renowned Bouchard family. Here, the winemakers adhere to time-honored winemaking practices, meticulously hand-harvesting grapes and some crushing still done by foot.

Is all their hard work paying off? Expert opinions on the region seem to indicate that it is.

In an interview with Vine Pair, Sommelier Luke Boland said that the Douro Valley produces some of the most underrated wines that can easily go head-to-head with those from more recognizable locales. He claims Portugal’s textural white wines with fresh acidity often “outperform the wines of other lauded regions while providing a similar drinking experience.”

READ NEXT: 16 Phenomenal Port Wineries in Porto, Portugal

In addition to its world-class wines, the Douro Valley offers plenty of cultural and gorgeous natural scenery. Picturesque villages, historic quintas, and river cruises are just a few of the things you can do when you visit. Whether you’re a Sommelier-in-training or a casual wine drinker, the Douro Valley promises an unforgettable journey into the heart of a wine region that’s quickly gaining steam.


Sydney is a solo travel expert who’s extensively explored Spain, Portugal, Morocco, California, and more! She creates travel guides and itineraries to share everything she's learned about the Iberian peninsula through personal experience and exploration.

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