GRIP, Internships Abroad Porto Tour and Tasting Guide

September 18, 2023
By David Arroyo, CAS '25

GRIP: Wine Production in Porto

My first couple days as an intern were amazing. I was placed in the Douro Valley, about three hours by train from the city of Porto. The first two days I was there were very peaceful and I was shadowing. They explained the main duties of the job and what was allowed and not allowed to happen at the vineyard. It went as expected the first couple of days there because it was all new. I was most looking forward to learning more about Port wine and the process in which it was made. There was so much information about the wines and the history of the Douro Valley and the more I started to learn the more questions I would come up with and ask my manager about. My manager was a sommelier so he was knowledgeable and would take me for tastings in order to refine my pallet and know what to look for while tasting the wines.

A ship docked in Porto.
A ship in Porto.

It was amazing being in the valley for a bit but after work was finished there wasn’t much to do and the other interns and workers didn’t live at the vineyard or had a car to leave whenever they wanted to I got lonely. After two weeks of working there I decided that the vineyard, although very peaceful and breathtakingly beautiful, it was not the place for me to work for two months. For the people who like the isolation and quiet, it is an amazing place to be but for me being a social person it was not the right fit for me, and asked if I could be switched over to the Lodge location in Porto.

David with friends.
David with friends. 

My first couple of days at the lodge were great, busy but great. Before starting to work in the lodge I talked to the other interns and some made it sound like they were running around 24/7 but one of the interns told me it wasn’t bad and that they had downtime at work and to not worry. The one intern was right and it was very relaxed compared to other jobs I had in the past.

I gained skills in reading about the different clients and what types of wines they would most enjoy. Depending on how receptive the customer was or how interested they were I would offer some of the more special wines that would suit their taste in wines. I loved the company because it felt very close and they cared about each other. They were all super friendly and willing to help and answer any questions I had and even offered advice after my tours and wine tastings. I am most proud of the connections I made with the Portuguese Interns and other coworkers I met while at Churchill's. 

The Global Research and Internship Program (GRIP) provides outstanding undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to intern or conduct research abroad for 8 to 12 weeks over the summer. Participants gain career-enhancing experience and global exposure that is essential in a global workforce.