Portuguese Wine Exports on the Rise


Wine ExportsPortuguese wine both domestically and for the export market is on the rise again, after a long period of time in the doldrums. Both quality and price have improved – after all, Portugal has a colourful history of winemaking through the years. All thanks to the  new and youthful wave of more educated winemakers  who brought about this change.

For many years, the fortified wine export market dominated with sales of Port and Madeira wines. The only table wines on the lips of consumers were names such as Vinho Verde and Mateus Rose, but this has begun to change.  While these two wines are still popular, wew wines have emerged. Portugal is currently on an export drive, particularly to the United States and the UK. However.

Wine Regions

The worlds’ oldest regulated wine region is Porto, situated in the Duoro Valley area and it is considered a Unesco World Heritage site. Traditionally a port-producing area, winemakers spread their wings to the provision of table wines. Due to climatic conditions, indigenous grape varietals, of which there are 250, are still used, giving the Portuguese a ‘true grape’. Most Portuguese wine is blended using indigenous grapes, but approved varietals from other European countries have begun to make an impact on wine production. These varietals come  from the larger wineries in this region.

Other regions now producing quality wines include Alentejo, Bairrada, Dao and Tejo, but the process is slow. Old techniques such as foot-treading are still being used by the smaller producers.

In the northernmost region is the  lush and verdant landscape, the Minho. This is where VInho Verde is produced and it is still the most popular ‘green’ wine in production.

ViniPortugal Partners with Wine Market Council

ViniPortugal has partnered with the Wine Market Council for one year to study how to improve Portuguese wine sales and educate consumers in the United States. The belief is that the US demographic like to try wines from the lesser-known regions, such as Portugal. Interestingly, US consumers are more than willing  to pay well-earned dollars and experiment with a more original glass or two of wine.

Esporao is one such successful Portuguese exporter from the Duoro and Alentejo regions that has listened to this advice. Marketing Manager Pedro Vieria comments that the most popular price range that has seen a significant increase in sales is the $15-$20 tier. Their Quinta dos Murcas Assabio brand doing especially well.

While the majority of their wines are blends, they are still producing single varietal wines, both red and white.

ViniPortugal – Annual Grand Tasting, March 2, 2016

Since 2011, there has almost been a 20% increase in the value of Portuguese DO wine imports, with a 4% increase alone in 2015. This is  according to figures released at the Annual Grand Tasting of Portuguese wines in London in March 2016.

The show findings also report that there has been a significant surge in interest in Portuguese wines and that the perception of their wines is changing. Portugal is certainly well placed to serve the UK market with authentic wines at great value for money and with a touch of originality.

Wines of Portugal – Marketing Drive

Portuguese WineMomentum is gathering for a huge push in 2016 to put Portuguese wines back on the map. Leading sommeliers are being invited to a series of tours hosted by Wines of Portugal and leading wine experts, in the desire to further promote the region. Tours will be headed up by Master Sommelier Ronan Sayburn and promise to be an eye-opener for participants that will surely increase the number of Portuguese wine labels on their lists.

Other marketing drives include Wines of Portugal Select Dinners to encourage independent wine retailers. The Wines of Portugal will be omnipresent during London Wine Week this May.

Distribution – Still a Problem

The single factor affecting the rise of export sales is undoubtedly one of distribution, particularly in the United States. Large scale producers have begun to significantly crack the market, but small family producers, of which there are many, are still struggling to find distribution channels. To address this concern,  Wines of Portugal are teaming up with retailers and grocery chains to promote smaller producers through a series of wine-tastings and promotions throughout the United States. Tour companies are being encouraged to promote Portugal as a destination, again through a marketing drive to increase brand awareness.

If this awareness can grow whilst interest is high for Portuguese wines, then the export market will flourish even more.