The area named after the river of the same name, with around 20,000 hectares of vineyards, was classified as DOC in 1990 and is located in the middle of the Beiras region in the north of Portugal. The viticulture goes back to ancient Greece. Especially where vineyards have existed for centuries, one finds numerous strange hollows and depressions in the rocks in the form of stone basins (Lagaretas). Probably grapes were pressed in these installations. This typical Portuguese method of crushing the grapes in the Lagares (stone troughs) is still practised today
The area is framed on three sides by granite mountains and thus protected from the Atlantic Ocean. About 80% of the land area consists of forests, only 5% is used for wine growing. Most of the vineyards are located on granite soils in the valleys of the three rivers Alva, Mondego and Dão. There are around 100,000 winegrowers, who often cultivate small plots of land of less than half a hectare. As a result, the vineyards are highly fragmented and often widely scattered in dense eucalyptus and pine forests
The climate is characterised by long, hot summers with relatively high amounts of rainfall in autumn and winter. Two-thirds of the red wines produced here are colour-intensive, rich in tannins and extracts, which is due to the often small-berry and hard-skinned grapes. Nine traditional grape varieties are officially recommended as particularly suitable, and a further thirteen are permitted in only small quantities. The Dão nobre (nobre = noble, noble) designation, which is specific to this area, is given to the very best wines, which still rank above the Reserva and Garrafeira levels.