From a 3,000m2 chocolate factory available for birthday party hire to a Portuguese ‘wine experience’ and a 9,000-year history of drinking vessels, Porto’s ‘World of Wine’ is nearly ready to open after €105m of investment.
Covering 55,000m2 of regenerated wine cellars, it aims to be a major visitor attraction and cultural centre for the Portuguese city, alongside the area’s famous Port houses.
The initial opening was scheduled for 31 July, although some attractions would take slightly longer to complete, said Adrian Bridge, CEO of World of Wine and a driving force behind the concept.
‘This for me started seven years ago,’ said Bridge, who is also CEO of Taylor’s Port owner The Fladgate Partnership, which has spearheaded the project.
He told Decanter that he hoped the centre would appeal to a new generation of wine tourists keen to find experiences and absorb themselves in local culture.
‘Our goal at WOW is to help define Porto as a cultural destination, telling the story not only of wine for which the city is world famous, but also of the city, its people and their adventures across the ages,’ said Bridge in a press statement.
Other features at the attraction are set to include ‘the planet cork’, which includes a replica of a giant cork tree and pays tribute to Portugal’s position as a major supplier of wine corks.
There will also be a ‘Porto across the ages’ exhibition, plus a wine school that will host courses accredited by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, gastronomy workshops, event spaces and a fashion and fabrics museum.
Visitors will find restaurants and wine bars at the complex, which is built around refurbished wine warehouses and includes an open-air square with views over Porto, according to the World of Wine team.
Bridge has opened up his personal drinking vessel collection, which will see more than 1,000 wine glasses displayed – some dating back to around 7,000 BC.
The ‘chocolate story’ space, meanwhile, includes a factory to allow visitors to watch chocolate being made from bean to bar. It will also host tastings and workshops.
Bridge said that some people had been concerned that ‘we were going to build Disneyland’, but he said the new attraction respects the old city and has regenerated redundant warehousing space. ‘It looks great.’
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Source: Chris Mercer