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Churchill’s luxury port house escape

Churchill's vineyard basket full of grapes.

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By Kevin Pilley on 10th August 2022

Clean and chiropodist-approved feet are strictly required for some holidays—especially active and immersive oenological holidays to Portugal.

For three days in September, Churchill's is offering tourists the opportunity to get under the skin of the local fruit and trend grapes in the company's traditional granite "Lagares", which date back to 1852.

Quinta da Gricha, the company's flagship vineyard, is inviting visitors for its annual 'vindima' on 10, 11 and 25 September. The day begins with a grape picking challenge with Churchill's viticultural team, and a tasting follows the shift on the terraces.

Churchill's is one of the few port houses to still pulp grapes all by foot. Afterwards, there is a three-course lunch in the orange grove, with Churchill's Douro wines and a vintage port served. 

The price is £185 per person, with additional options for transfers from/to Porto. 

Churchill's was founded in 1981 by master port blender Johnny Graham with his two brothers, Anthony and William and his wife Caroline Churchill, who also gave the brand its name. Graham learnt his trade in the Douro river's terraced valleys and on "robalo" port boats when apprenticed to Cockburn Smithie's. He also worked for "Taylor's". 

He has also opened a port portal. He comments: "The Club's mission is to share the fortified nectar of the Douro with the next generation of drinkers by making Churchill's award-winning handcrafted ports easy to purchase, learn about and make your own."

Membership to Port

The club includes quarterly three-bottle Port Packs and access to unique travel and port education experiences in Portugal and online. Adds Johnny's eldest daughter Zoe: "We know that port can be a confusing category. Our mission is to make people feel why what they're drinking is so good."

Zoe's husband, Ben Himowitz, is one of the few Americans in the Portuguese wine world. 

 The Port Packs introduce members to various port styles from Churchill's award-winning portfolio. Churchill's fuses a drier port style with minimal intervention in viticulture and winemaking. All Churchill's ports are foot-trod, using natural yeast for extended fermentation. 

The Graham family has led the port's success for two hundred years. The family business was sold to "Symington Family Estates" in 1970. "Churchill's" is a first-generation business producing 50,000 handcrafted cases a year. Churchill's is the only port house that is still founder-led.

Port Club members can access personalised online masterclasses with Johnny, son James, Portuguese winemaker, and "fellow wine rogue" Ricardo Punto Nunes. Aspiring connoisseurs can learn about crusted ports and that Portuguese cooking isn't all potatoes and queijadas. Recipes for cooking with 10-Year-Old Tawny Port and Late Bottled Vintage suggest what pairs with dry white port. As well as what to drink while you're cooking!

Port Packs all come with one everyday port, one particular occasion port, and one unique Club Port selected and blended by Mr Graham exclusively for club members. So each port is ready to drink immediately.

Members will also have exclusive VIP access to Churchill's luxurious 4-bedroom Vineyard House in the Douro Valley to bespoke programmes at Churchill's Lodge in Oporto. 

 www.churchills-port.com

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