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Douro Boys Port raises €100,000 for youth charity

Portuguese winemakers the Douro Boys have helped to raise €100,000 for disadvantaged Douro youths from sales of a special edition vintage Port.

Twenty-five Douro winemakers, including the Douro Boys, stomp the grapes for the O-Port-Unidade Port

Called O-Port-Unidade, the vintage Port’s name is a play on the phrase ‘the Port wine of unity’ and the word ‘opportunity’ in Portuguese.

The project, brought into being by German Port specialist Axel Probst, came about by accident: originally, Probst had wanted to create an impressive photograph for his latest book on Port and invited leading Portuguese winemakers and oenologists to tread grapes together in a lagar.

That developed into an idea for all the participants to collaborate on a winemaking project. On 22 September 2013, 25 winemakers – among them four of the five Douro Boys (Dirk van der Niepoort, Miguel Roquette (Quinta do Crasto), Francisco Ferreira (Quinta do Vallado) and Francisco Olazabal (Quinta do Vale Meão) – brought their own best grapes to Dirk Niepoort’s Port quinta in Vale de Mendiz to produce a wine.

The winemakers filled a traditional granite lagar (pictured) with the grapes and trod them together. The growers all agreed that the special edition ‘O-Port-Unidade’ Port they created should serve a good cause, choosing the charity Bagos Douro (‘Berries of the Douro’), which helps disadvantaged children and young people in the Douro Valley.

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“We were inspired by the idea that the proceeds from sales of this marvellous Port should go to those in the Douro Valley who needed assistance the most,” Niepoort said.

L-R: Padre Amadeu Castro (Bagos Douro), Manuel de Novaes Cabral (president of the IVDP) and Port writer Axel Probst

A total of 5,000 bottles of the vintage Port were produced. The wine, which received 94 points from Robert Parker, sold at €20 each, generating €100,000 in funds which were donated to the Bagos Douro charity. A cheque for the amount was presented to the charity in September.

While the Douro Valley has developed into a thriving region for tourism in recent years, aided by being designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001, poverty remains a persistent problem in the region. Predominantly agricultural in demographic, the Douro has a relatively high rate of unemployment and been subject to substantial outward emigration. It is also home to a rapidly ageing populace.

The recent emergence of sustainable tourism programme has many new job opportunities – Quinta do Vallado (João Ferreira Álvares Ribeiro, Francisco Ferreira), for example, has built two hotels in the last 10 years, while Quinta do Crasto (Tomás and Miguel Roquette) has added new guest rooms and the estate‘s own wine shop.

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