Located in Northeast Portugal, within the Douro River basin, surrounded by craggy mountains that give it very particular soil and climacteric characteristics, this region spreads over a total area of approximately 250 000 hectares and is divided into three sub-regions that differ greatly from each other not only as regards the weather but also for socio-economical reasons.
The existing characteristics in the Douro region affect the economic use that is made of the natural resources and the activities developed there.
In the old days, viticulture was only greatly widespread in the upper stretches of the Douro River, which is why many authors adopted the expression ‘Upper Douro’ when they referred to the winemaking region known today as the Baixo and Upper Corgo.
One of the original demarcators that separated the so-called ‘Alto Douro’ from the ‘Douro Superior’ (very upper Douro) was the Cachão de Valeira canyon. This geological obstacle consisted of a huge granite outcrop that prevented navigation beyond this obstacle. The differences between the two areas were truly visible, be it only the spreading vineyards below it.
Later, with the removal of the block of granite during the reign of queen Dona Maria II, viticulture spread eastwards, albeit less extensively so in the truly Upper Douro.
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