How Porto has become the destination for wine loving tourists
Porto already had much to offer the wine lover, but now it has the World of Wine, the city has become the destination for oenophiles – and we take a look at what’s on offer.
Opened in summer 2020, the World of Wine is a €100 million visitor attraction covering 55,000m2, and mostly housed within the historic warehouses owned by The Fladgate Partnership – the owner of Taylor’s Port.
Situated in Vila Nova de Gaia on the southern banks of the river Douro – overlooking the city of Porto – the World of Wine comprises as many as seven museums, and 12 restaurants, bars and cafés, and was the brainchild of Adrian Bridge, CEO of Port producer The Fladgate Partnership, who described the tourist attraction as “the biggest urban regeneration project in the nation and probably the biggest in Europe,” when speaking to db ahead of its construction in 2017.
Commenting on the facility during a discussion with db this month, Bridge said that WOW was even more than a mecca for wine lovers, but a major cultural attraction for visitors and residents of Porto.
Explaining that WOW offers an extraordinary array of wine-based interactive elements, he also drew attention to the attraction’s range of restaurants, calendar of events, and museums devoted to chocolate and fashion.
“There is much more to WOW than wine, and we are presenting it as a new cultural district,” he said, noting too that the advent of this huge visitor attraction has “stimulated” further investment around it, with new shops, restaurants and galleries emerging alongside the Fladgate site.
In terms of temporary exhibitions and events within WOW, he said there is currently an exhibition on the modern history of Portugal consisting of 100 photographs from 1968 to 2019 taken by US photographer Neal Salvin, while the site has just hosted a craft beer festival over the weekend, attracting 12,000 people, according to Bridge.
“It’s not all about wine,” he said.
However, it is the interactive and educational museum experiences on wine that make up the majority of WOW’s vast space, with attractions designed to enthuse everyone from the novice to the Master of Wine student, said Bridge.
“Leading this is the wine experience,” he began, saying, “The purpose of which is explaining wine to people, how it is made, the influence of climate, soils, pruning mechanisms, and the growing cycle of the vine.”
It also covers grape etymology and varietal characteristics, along with winemaking approaches for all styles, followed by coopering techniques.
“It deals with the entire process in a logical way and deals with questions that most people won’t ask, such as the difference between the type of grape people eat and those used to make wine – there are six key differences,” he said.
After that, the experience addresses the issue of packaging – how bottles are made, cork is produced, along with an introduction to Portuguese wine regions and local traditions, as well as how to taste wine.
Meanwhile, another attraction within WOW takes visitors on a “journey through rosé” featuring a pink convertible Cadilllac from the 50s, a pink ball pit that people can jump into, before leading them to a Wild West saloon, where cocktails are served.
Summing up, Bridge commented, “We try to make it fun and interactive, and it’s not done in a lecturing way.”
Read on for more information about WOW.
Opened in August 2020, WOW includes seven museum experiences: The Wine Experience, Planet Cork, The Porto Region Across the Ages, The Bridge Collection, The Pink Palace and The Porto Fashion & Fabric Museum, The Chocolate Story, as well as The Wine School, along with a range of bars, restaurants and shops.
The Wine Experience
Dedicated to both amateur drinkers and experienced winemakers, the Wine Experience aims to demystify wine. Visitors receive the opportunity to learn more about the main agents – the soil, the climate, the grapes, but also about all the processes that take place until it reaches the glass.
The Porto Region Across the Ages experience
With this experience, visitors learn about the times and setbacks of Porto, the conquests of the Discoveries, the French Invasions, the Civil War, and then eventually the Industrial Revolution, and the prosperity of today.
At Planet Cork, visitors are greeted by the presence of a replica of a giant cork tree. The experience is fully interactive and invites the discovery of the most diverse uses of cork, including a catwalk showcasing different fashion styles using the material.
The Bridge Collection
Adrian Bridge’s collection remains one of the most comprehensive private collections of drinking vessels in the world, embracing many periods of history, making this a very rare prism among collectors, and one that beautifully expresses the history and customs associated with wine.
Porto Fashion and Fabric Museum
Representing a major industry in Portugal, the Fashion & Fabric museum underlines the achievements of timeless brands, and gives a voice to emerging talents.
The Chocolate Story
With the Chocolate Story, WOW explains what chocolate is, where it comes from, and how it is made. From cocoa plantations to chocolate manufacturing processes, everything is demonstrated in twelve different stages.
The Pink Palace Experience
An “exaggerated, flamboyant and sensory experience” across 11 rooms that immerses visitors in the world of rosé.
The Wine School
For wine lovers, curious connoisseurs, and professionals in the sector, WOW’s Wine School provides wine courses for all degrees of interest and knowledge.
Over 4,300 square feet, the WOW Gallery hosts temporary exhibitions and events.
An open-air square remains the central point of the complex, and is surrounded by several restaurants and bars, offering a selection of wines, Portuguese coffee, snacks, quick dining options, and sit-down restaurants.
Location and access
WOW is located in Rua do Choupelo, in Vila Nova de Gaia. There are four ways to access it. Three of the entrances are located in Rua do Choupelo, one closer to the hotel, The Yeatman, and where buses should leave visitors, another entrance that is further away from the hotel, but still in Rua do Choupelo and another one that is placed exactly at the beginning of the street for those who come up from the pier of Vila Nova de Gaia.
The fourth entrance is useful for those who want to use public transportation. It is located on Rua Cândido dos Reis and is less than a 10-minute walk from General Torres Train Station or from Jardim do Morro Metro Station.
The entrance to WOW’s outdoor areas is free of charge, including access to restaurants, cafes and shops. Experiences, activities at the wine school, events and exhibitions are paid admission.