Minho is Portugal's northernmost wine region. It is known for one wine style above all others: crisp, light, white Vinho Verde, whose DOC zone covers the same territory. The Minho name is used for the area's Vinho Regional designation (similar to the French IGP).
The latter's looser production laws allow more diversity in the average winery's portfolio, including red and rosé wines. Minho VR was formerly known Rios do Minho before the Vinho Regional category was updated in 2008 to fall in line with the EU-wide PGI/IGP/IGT category.
The region is located on the Portugal's Atlantic coast to the north and east of Porto, Portugal's second-largest city and the home of Port. It occupies a roughly rectangular area about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from north to south, which reaches about 50km (30 miles) inland.
There are around 60,000 hectares of vines planted in Minho. Many of these are dedicated to Vinho Verde, the country's largest DOC.
Minho Grape Varieties
A number of varieties are also found in Spains Rias Baixas region, which lies immediately to the north. The key grape varieties to be found in white Minho wines include the natives Alvarinho, Avesso, Loureiro, Pederna (Arinto) and Trajadura. Chardonnay and Riesling are the most common international white varieties.
Minho's proximity to the Atlantic is the reason why its land is so prolific for agriculture, including viticulture. In fact, this part of Portugal is known as the Costa Verde – a reference to its lush, green (verde) countryside. It has this in common with Spanish Galicia, immediately to the north. Rain-bearing winds blow in from the ocean, enabling the vineyards to produce much higher yields than those in drier, inland regions like neighboring Transmontano.
Minho is named, as are several Portuguese wine regions, after an important local river. The river Minho , which rises in the hills of neighboring Galicia (north-western Spain) forms the border between Spain and Portugal. Not just a vital source of water and transportation, the river's power is harnessed to produce a respectable proportion of Minho's electricity needs.
While the region's northern edge is marked by one important river, its southern edge is traced by a far more famous river; the famous Douro (Spain's Duero). The Douro bisects Minho's southern one-fifth, as it approaches the end of its long journey from the hills of Castilla y Leon.