Close Menu

The Douro in pictures: The Fladgate Partnership

db ventured to the UNESCO registered Douro region as guests of the The Fladgate Partnership, owners of Fonseca, Fonseca-Guimaraens, Taylor, and Croft. The trip began with lunch at the sleek, riverside DOC restaurant.

Of course we had to sing for our supper by taking part in popping grapes by foot in a traditional lagar. Thigh high in a portion of the warming harvest of Quinta da Roêda, we squelched rhythmically, putting split skins in contact with released juice to aid the three day long fermentation process.

Spirit tanks at the estate, which features 1,000 year old olive trees, one of which has been relocated to the group’s Porto hotel, The Yeatman, are nicknamed ‘Gina Lollobrigidas’ by workers. Here we tasted Croft Pink – the first of its kind to have been developed. Dogs, Ruby and Tawny frolicked under the sun.

A short downhill cycle away is the partnership’s Douro hotel, The Vintage House, complete with double showers in rooms, and private access to the prettily-tiled Pinhão railway station, which features a wide gauge railway. (

Christian Lacroix wallpaper lines the washroom.

A sappy climber has actually bent iron railings near the station.

The Fladgate Partnership also own Quinta do Panascal, where vine leaves were turning the colour of professional treaders’ soles.

Panascal was the first Douro estate to accept tourists in 1966.

A highlight of the trip was lunch of kid goat, stewed for three hours. Below the dining terrace, pickers, merry after their half a bottle of wine ration apiece, sung on their way back to work.

Expat and couth marketing director for the hotels of The Fladgate Partnership, Richard Bowden, talked of the happiness of the Portuguese who, like him, value ‘the important things in life’, being close to sea and countryside, as we took a form or Rabelo.

In Porto, we took a pre-refurbishment tour of the art deco Infante de Sagres hotel which The Fladgate Partnership has acquired. The first five star in the city, previous regimes have not maximised potential, using a bespoke carving trolley as storage for CDs, for example.

A Tuk Tuk conveyed us to on the opposite side of the river, adjoining the Taylor’s visitor experience, now revamped with a star tunnel and relaxing English gardens where peacocks strut beneath weeping willows.

Wine Director, Beatriz Machado, who ‘runs like an angry gazelle’ to keep trim, helped choose wines from the venue’s 1,300 listings strong cellars for dinner in the venue’s Michelin star restaurant, presided over by chef, Ricardo Costa. Near the bar is a glassware collection dating to 800BC.

The hotel also features a Caudalie Vinothérapie® Spa, Roman baths of which are accessed via a VAT-like staircase.

Before returning to Blighty, we broke bread with Sandhurst graduate, Adrian Bridge, the MD of The Fladgate Partnership, at Taylor’s Barão Fladgate restaurant. Here, Bridge announced exciting details of a 100m Euro ‘World of Wine’ scheduled to open in 2020 in 300 year-old warehouses formerly used for bottling. Watch this space for more details!

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No