Port wine is a fortified wine produced in a delimited region of the Douro valley in northern Portugal. The addition of spirit stops the fermentation of the must by the yeasts, and the wine acquires a high alcoholic strength, 17-22 alcohol degrees. It is thought that this process was discovered in the 17th century by English merchants to prevent wine from spoiling during the journey by boat between Portugal and Great Britain. The delimitation of the region where this wine can be produced was made in 1756 by order of the Marquis of Pombal, Prime Minister of King José I. The high economic value of this fortified wine led to a great expansion of the vineyard planting area that occupies today a large part of this demarcated region. Geographically, the demarcated port wine region is made up of hills and valleys, so it was necessary to create terraces to plant the vines. This process, which began two and a half centuries ago and continues today, has drastically altered the landscape of the Port wine-demarcated region. Today, it is a landscape strongly marked by man's hands, a humanized landscape classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 2001. Until the introduction of machinery for earthworks, already in the 20th century, all work was done manually, using simple and ancient instruments like shovels and picks.
The municipality of Alijó is one of the region’s most strongly marked by the production of Port wine. In September of last year, on a beautiful late afternoon with a sky full of clouds, on my way to the village of Cotas, I came across this magnificent scenery that the Canon EOS 77D captured in its grandeur, beauty and equilibrium. Sunny areas appeared between shaded areas. Villages with a few dozen houses are dispersed across the territory. AVineyards on levels and terraces occupy almost all the space. In places not occupied by vines, we can see olive trees, the second most important crop in the region, where high-quality olive oil is produced. Three sequential images were assembled in Photoshop to obtain this panorama, which seems to me to express well how a man can radically and deeply alter the landscape without making it ugly and unpleasant.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor