Quilts and Other Stuff from Frances

Celebrations at Quinta de Marrocos

Friday, the 20th, was Michael’s and my 39th anniversary so we had made plans to spend the weekend away, preferably in the Douro Valley.   While reading Rick Steve’s guide, he mentioned a small family farm and winery that had a few rooms that you could rent, so we emailed and asked for information.   They told us that they had a room for us so we headed out on Friday morning. 

The owners had told us not to use the street address for the Quinta because it would take us to the wrong place but they had provided written directions.   My I-phone seemed to take us to the correct place so we made the trip using THREE different sets of instructions….


It was a bit confusing!!

When we had arrived at the spot (or so we thought), Michael saw a truck with the winery’s name on it coming out of one entrance so he turned in there thinking that it was the way to go….WRONG!!!!  Our little car pulled up the steep incline with the wheels slipping as we went.   We finally decided that this couldn’t be right so Michael carefully did a 14-point turn, on the ledge overlooking the Douro River!!!  I commented as he was carefully heading back down that there were Olive trees lining the road.   He later said that he couldn’t believe that I noticed the trees during that harrowing drive.   My answer was that I knew they were the only things that were going to keep us from plunging into the river so I was VERY interested in them!!

We called the winery and were told that we needed to go a short way further and we would reach the ACTUAL entrance!!!

We were met by Anna and were shown to our room……or should I say apartment!!!


Since we were staying longer, they had given us an apartment that had two bedrooms and a separate seating area!!

The apartment was wonderfully decorated with items that had been passed down thru the 5 generations that had owned the farm.  We felt as if we had been invited into someone’s home for the weekend.

There was a lot of needlework displayed including this intricate tatted (or crocheted) lace cloth…..


….and this folksy applique scene……


This chest in the living room contained family photos and other interesting items….IMG_5655

This mirror and tiny bidet were at the entrance…..IMG_5659

After we had unloaded our suitcases and made ourselves at home, it was time to explore a bit., but first we had to drink a glass of White Port that Anna brought to us…. IMG_5592

Happy Anniversary to my sweet husband!!!!


There were people working on the slope nearest to the house so we went over to watch. IMG_5595

They were in the process of planting new vines and it was so intriguing to watch the process.

They would first use a type of hoe to dig a hole in the ground and then the woman would use a stick with a yam-shaped end on it to poke a hole even further down and the man would use the hoe to plant the vine…..


Another woman was carrying jugs of water up the slope to water in the new vine…..


We later learned about the new vines….

In the mid 19th century, there was a blight of the grape vines in Europe, caused by an Aphid species called Phylloxera.  For some reason, American vines were not susceptible to this bug so, for many years, they have used rootstock from America, grafting their own vine onto this rootstock.   In the above photo, the grafted vine is protected by the green latex.

Now, of course, it was time to eat….what else do you do on vacation!!!  We entered the dining room that we were sharing with a tour group of 30 visitors from France.

The meal started off with the usual appetizers….sausage, Presunto (the Portuguese variation on Prosciutto), bread and olive oil (fresh from the farm)….



  Next was a rich, creamy potato soup, served in a metal bowl…..


….followed by a casserole of potatoes, carrots and Baccala (salted Cod)…..


This was not our favorite, but it was a nicely prepared and we enjoyed trying something new.

The meal was followed by the sweetest orange that I have ever had…..IMG_5627

They are grown on the property as well and were magnificent.   The meal ended with a pound cake with Tawny Port and then tea and coffee.

Michael enjoyed the afternoon sitting on “our” deck and enjoying the views…..


….while I enjoyed the inside of my eyelids with a long nap!!!!

It was the perfect way to celebrate our lives together…..



We woke up on Saturday morning, ready to do some exploring but first needed some sustenance….not really, but who is going to miss a meal!!!   

We had breakfast in a room that used to be the kitchen for the property….DSC07761

…..complete with many reminders of how this room was used in years past…..


Now it was time to do some walking and get our stomachs ready for lunch!!!  Our host, Caesar (pronounced SAY-sar) suggested that we start at the two huge Cedar Trees……


He told us that the winery was originally a Monastery and that, typically, religious places were marked with two Cedar trees!!

As we walked, we kept finding rough stairs that would lead us up from one terrace to the next…..


We heard a train tooting its horn and were happy to see it chugging its way across the valley…..


The grape vines were just starting to set their fruit, bringing visions of juicy grapes dripping over the vines in September…..


The vines were obviously just getting started on their growing season and were twining everywhere…..


The vines were held in place with posts that looked wooden but were actually made from heavy slate…..


We were told that the old posts were cut by hand but that these new ones were carved from the slate by machine…..IMG_5674


There was even a funky slate table…..IMG_5712

As we climbed even higher, the views across the valley became more spectacular…..


The tiny red roof that you see in the center of the valley is our abode.

We found a manmade cave that is apparently part of the spring system that supplies water to the farm…..


We came across this grave that is the resting place of the matriarch of the farm family.  Her daughter said that she was the soul of the winery and was greatly missed…..


The property was lined with soft, green, olive trees…..IMG_5745

We slowly worked our way back down the vineyard with some of the steps having a large drop-off on one side.   I preferred to hug the wall in these cases…..


…while my crazy husband was a bit more adventurous…..


We were enamored with the rock walls, wondering exactly how old they were!!!IMG_5760

We came to the orange tree grove and fought our impulses to pick one on the spot….


We ate our lunch once again in the dining room with 30 Frenchmen, this time dining on  cheeses and bread with a MAGNIFICENT orange rind marmalade……DSC07767

and ending with a meat rich pasta….


Since we had exercised and eaten, we returned to our favorite pastimes of sitting on the deck and taking a nap!!!

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