First of all, Port is not actually made in Porto, it is only aged in the city. All of the major Port manufacturers have caves in the hills on the banks of the river Douro opposite the main city here where the wine is stored and eventually shipped out. The vineyards themselves are located more than 100 kilometers east along the Douro river valley.
It is interesting to note here that when this spirit is added, it stops the fermentation process and thus preserves the sugar content and this gives the sweetness that this wine is known for. The spirit also gives the wine a hellava strong kick and we were warned that it can also give a nasty hangover to those who over-indulge. No problem for us, this wine is too sweet for us to drink more than a glass or two.
Many of the grapes are still hand-picked and as a long fan of a classic I Love Lucy episode where Lucy treads on grapes, I was delighted to learn that the traditional method of foot-treading is still used for a portion of the harvest. We were told that the foot-treaders have to stomp grapes for four hours. During the first two hours they are to gently march to the cadence of a drill sergeant to gradually extract the juice. During the second two hours, music is played and they have to dance exuberantly so that the grape skins macerate with the juice as long as possible to build color, tannins and flavor. Sounds positively decadent!