The year 2006 celebrates 250 years since the Portuguese administration laid the foundations for the constitution of the Demarcated Douro Region and for a system regulating its wine production and trade, by the royal charter which instituted the Companhia Geral da Agricultura das Vinhas do Alto Douro (General Company of Alto Douro Viticulture) on 10 th September 1756.
Regardless of the historical interpretations concerning its political, economic or social significance, the legislation of Pombal, remarkably pioneering at world level, took on concepts and principles regulating and defending a denomination of controlled origin, today generally accepted by most of the wine-producing countries, especially in Europe . Although the Demarcated Douro Region has suffered major geographical, institutional and administrative changes over the centuries, it does in fact comprise an historical continuity as a region of origin of quality wines, and its «cultural, evolving and living landscape» was recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage in 2001.
These facts alone, of undisputable relevance both nationally and internationally, fully justify an exceptional celebration of the Demarcated Douro Region, of the city of Porto and its centuries-old association to the Douro wine trade business, and indeed of the country as a whole, given the vitally important role Port wine has played in the Portuguese economy over the last three centuries, as its very first export product, boosting furthermore an image of Portugal of quality and prestige abroad.
Through a diversified programme, the Commemorations of the 250 Years of the Demarcated Douro Region will seek to summon a landmark historical event and, at the same time, celebrate the work and art of those who have shaped the wine-growing region into a cultural landscape classified by UNESCO as World Heritage, and of those who created its wines and cultivated their universal fame.
These Commemorations reflect, above all, a collective project of the Douro region, which counts on the active participation of several regional and national institutions, engaged in the preservation and enhancement of the authenticity, integrity and excellence of the region and its wines as a «cultural, evolving and living» legacy.
The Deliberation of the Council of Ministers of 25 th May 2006 recognizes the cultural and economic interest of the Commemorations of the 250 years of the Demarcated Douro Region: «This Deliberation, by recognizing the public interest of the Commemorations of the 250 years of the Demarcated Douro Region, expresses the Government's unequivocal support for the initiatives that the region, through its local authorities, associations and private agents, proposes to undertake in celebration of the establishment of this region, considered pioneering worldwide. The «Commemorations of the 250 Years of the Demarcated Douro Region», to be held between 31 st August and 14 th December 2006, will highlight the preservation of the authenticity, integrity and excellence of the region and its wines as a «cultural, evolving and living» legacy, as well as the enhancement of the economic activity involving the production of Port and Douro wines, which comprise the main livelihood of the populations of the Douro region».