July 24, 2014

Visiting a Port House: Ramos Pinto

By In Articles, Vineyard & Wine Travel, Visiting The Douro
Just behind the lower end of the cable car ride in Vila Nova de Gaia stands a proud, mustard coloured building. This is the lodge for port producer Ramos Pintos. Not that widely known in the UK – where the English names of the port houses are so familiar – Ramos Pintos has a 130 years of history; a history certainly worth exploring.

Founded by Adriano Ramos Pinto in 1880, Casa Ramos Pinto rapidly became noted, at the time, for its innovative and enterprising strategy. Associated with quality bottled wines, it began operating on the Brazilian market in the early 20th century and quickly became responsible for half of the wine exported to South America, whilst it was still conquering generations of loyal customers in Portugal and Europe.

If you are facing the mustard coloured building on the right is the actual entrance. A guided tour ending with a two port tasting should take just a couple of hours and is recommnded. While the name might not be that familiar the poster greeting you at the entrance should be. The Kiss from 1925 (by Rene Vincent 1879-1936) has to be one of the most recognisable and collectable wine posters of all time.

There are plenty more advertising posters inside the lodge. Most have a certain ‘theme’ to them which perhaps indicates the moral standing of their commissioner at the time and how shocking many would have been viewed at the time of their release. It is all boobs and bums. As the guide pointed out in a highly conservative catholic country they were intended to shock. There is a story of a statue that had to have a bum covered due to indecency. Having a bosom showing was fine however.

As the photo gallery below shows there are a host of fascinating items in the museum. It has an original trading office that looks like a bank complete with back room typewriters. There is a main office with attached bathroom, original fittings and memorabilia from the Ramos Pintos export markets and so on.

Photo Gallery – Visiting a Port House: Ramos Pinto

Open to the public since April 2002, the Museum Area – Casa Ramos Pinto is installed in the former offices, which have remained intact since the 30’s.
Here one can find testimonies of the history of the company, made up of the history of its wines, the labels of its bottles, medals won or advertising commissioned from the best artists. The intention of this space is to show how, given the innovative ideas which Adriano Ramos Pinto had as producer and wine dealer, he transformed the head offices of his company into a palace aimed to impress his clients and other visitors.

Following the museum you are led downstairs to the cobble-floored cellar; full as you would expect with oak barrels. Then, before you realise it, you are led back to the reception area for a tasting. While you wont get the full range line-up as we did at the end of our tour, a couple of glasses should see you through…

Ramos Pinto, 400 – Vila Nova de Gaia
Tel. +351 223 707 000
Opening Hours: May > October from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.(all days)
April: from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Mondays to Fridays, closed on Public Holidays)
November > March: from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.(Mondays to Fridays, closed on Public Holidays)

In the UK The Whisky Exchange has a range of wines from Ramos Pinto including, perhaps my favourite from the range, the 20 year old Tawny for £34.55. Berry Brothers has the Ramos Pinto 2011 Vintage Port listed for £64 a bottle.

The trip to the Douro was arranged by Discover The Origin. Discover the Origin is a campaign financed with aid from the European Union, Italy, France and Portugal to promote five key European products: Bourgogne Wines, Parma Ham, Douro Wines, Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese and Port.

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