February 8, 2022

How Portuguese Wine Has Changed and Why It Is More Popular Than Ever

Exclusive interview with Frederico Falcão, President of Wines of Portugal

Portugal has long been revered for exporting quality wine domestically and around the world. However, the country’s wine sector has recently seen success and investment unlike ever before. Frederico Falcão, President of ViniPortugal, discusses how the Portuguese wine market has changed and how it is becoming more and more lucrative.

You have been promoting Portuguese wines for the past 25 years. Broadly speaking, what has changed in this time?
In the nineties, if we think about what Portuguese wines were in terms of quality or image recognition, and if we compare it to today, it’s radically different. At the time, the world was unaware of the quality of our wines and many markets didn’t even know where Portugal was on the map or that Portugal was a quality wine producer. However, there was a generation of Portuguese winemakers who travelled, who changed the wines to a more commercial style and that helped to change a certain mentality. We spent many years producing in-house, improving ourselves, but this in-house strategy delayed our internationalisation as a wine producing country for a long time.

It’s a delight to see that, in the last 10 to 15 years, Portugal has been doing an excellent job in terms of world wine promotion and that, in a few years, we’ve conquered the world. It’s not in vain that we’re the ninth country on the international wine trade list.

Today the reality is thus very different from what it was 25 years ago. Foreigners enter our country daily with the goal of tasting our wines. We have tourists in experiencing the harvests and falling in love with our wines. Some of them end up settling in Portugal and investing in the Portuguese wine sector.

The fact that the Portuguese wine sector is very well organised, having created its own association ViniPortugal to represent and promote the sector, speaking with a single voice, has helped Portugal to grow so fast in international markets. In 2010 all this was reinforced with the creation of the brand ‘Wines of Portugal’.

The popularity of Portuguese wines is growing, what differentiates them from other countries?
Portugal has more than 250 identified native/autochthonous varieties, and our terroirs are completely different from anywhere else. Even though it is a very small country, the diversity of internal terroirs is huge, making Portugal a truly different world. Our wines have an excellent value for money ratio, we’ve been running a good marketing campaign in international markets. All of these factors have helped us obtain many achievements across borders.

What are the best performing Portuguese wines and why?
Portuguese wines have shown remarkable evolution, especially in these last two difficult years. The wine sector has managed to make the best use of these constraints and we manage to achieve more international share every year. It’s not easy to highlight any region, since most of them are recording a great increase in sales, but Douro and Port, Vinho Verde, Alentejo, Lisboa, Península de Setúbal, Bairrada and Tejo wines have recorded the best results since the beginning of 2019 in terms of business value, according November 2021 data.

What are the target markets for Portuguese wines and why?
In addition to France, the US and the UK, we also count Brazil, Germany and Canada among our top export markets. Our strategy includes being on four continents, where we are also present in: Angola, China, Japan, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland, Russia, Sweden, Poland, Mexico, Ukraine, Spain, Belgium and Denmark.

In these markets, the Wines of Portugal brand focuses its communication on 10 varieties – reds: Touriga Nacional, Aragonez / Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Trincadeira / Tinta Amarela, Castelão, Baga and whites: Alvarinho, Arinto, Fernão Pires/Maria Gomes and Encruzado – which are a flagship in the promotion of Portuguese wines. This communication has been a success attracting many buyers from these countries, so we will increase and reinforce our presence there and continue to add new achievements.

You are one of the biggest exhibitors at Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris this year. Why is this such an important event for you?
Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris is one of the most important and most impactful wine fairs in the sector. The event is a meeting between the most famous wine regions in the world and professional buyers from the five continents. We couldn’t miss this presence and being here in a prominent way. The Wines of Portugal stand has 55 exhibitors, representing the main wine regions – Vinho Verde, Porto and Douro, Dão, Lafões, Bairrada, Beira Interior, Alentejo, Lisboa, Tejo, Península de Setúbal, Algarve and Madeira – with several news over the three days and a tailor-made tastings area.