Kopke Port House
If you’re short on time, Casa Kopke (established in 1638, and pronounced 'cop-key') is a petite, three-storey port house on Cais de Gaia that does short, casual tastings where you can sample a flight of wines with either cheese or chocolate. Sure, you don’t get the full cellar tour, but this is regarded as some of the best port in town, and the upstairs lounge has great views of the Douro River. For the in-and-out tasting experience, it's pretty hard to beat.
Avenida de Diogo Leite 312, Vila Nova de Gaia
Away from the main drag of busy Cais de Gaia is a port house that clued-in supermarket shoppers might recognise. Established in 1890, it’s a relative newcomer to the scene but is still one of the ultimate port experiences in town. There’s a museum, beautifully restored cellars, a gorgeous tasting room, epic views of the city and a bunch of different tasting options that means it works for more discriminating palates as well as total newbs. A lovely spot – plan to linger.
Rua do Agro 141, Vila Nova de Gaia
Established in 1692, Taylor's is one of the grandees of port history. Yes, you can also get its entry-level stuff in the supermarket but don’t let that put you off: the wine here is held in very high esteem by those that know. Its cellar is a beautiful space, too, and the audio-guided tour (in 12 languages) means you can wander around at your own pace and wind up at the tasting room, to try its extra-dry white and late-bottled vintage tawny (both included in the €12 tickets). Recommended.
Rua do Choupelo 250, Vila Nova de Gaia
This is likely one of the first port houses you’ll see on Cais de Gaia and comes highly rated by wine-buff magazine Decanter. It has the whole package: a guided tour of the cellars, museum-like exhibits, a cool-looking tasting room and a slick, stone-walled retail store. One of its packages includes the chance to sample two wines plus a 45-minute live fado show. The location means it’ll probably be busy but, even so, for a fun, easy intro to port, these guys nail it.
Avenida Diogo Leite 344, Vila Nova de Gaia
The only port house in town to stay fully Portuguese owned and operated since its founding in 1751. It has what might be one of the most charismatic tasting rooms in town, an esteemed cellar brimming with definitive vintages and a natty online booking system that offers myriad different tour-and-tasting options in six different languages that start at €14 (and includes two ports at that). It's also housed in an old convent, for extra charm points.
Av. de Ramos Pinto 70, Vila Nova de Gaia
To sidestep the peak-season crowds of Cálem, this small but highly repped port house does more low-key, intimate tours that explain the production process as well as offer the chance to sample rarities including its 10-, 20- or even 30-year-old tawny port (there’s a 40 year old, too). It's ideal for more experienced drinkers looking for the one-of-a-kind of stuff you can’t get back home. Booking ahead for a tour is preferred but you can also just rock up and chance it.
Avenida Diogo Leite 16, Vila Nova de Gaia
Most visitors to the city’s port-house district arrive via the Dom Luís 1 bridge. That fact makes this beautiful, boutique, out-of-the-way port house the longest walk but, hey, we’re not complaining. The upshot is that it's usually less busy and, either way, the seriously well-regarded wine is well worth the extra yards (critics love it). The cellars are beautiful and the smart, upscale tasting room has pleasing views of the river. Advance booking essential.
Rua da Fonte Nova 5, Vila Nova de Gaia