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DO wines drive double-digit Portuguese growth

Published:  21 February, 2019

Education and tourism were the key factors behind Portugal’s double-digit value growth in the UK last year, according to Sonia Vieira, marketing director of ViniPortugal.

Speaking at Wines of Portugal Grand Tasting on Wednesday 21 in London, Vieira said that Portugal had gained “a good momentum in the UK”, with sales during 2018 delivering an increase in value of DO wines of 33.7%, off the back of a 34% increase in volume to 48,092 hl.  

“We’ve seen consistent growth [averaging] 8.5% in value over the last five years, so it is going slowly but consistently the right way,” said Vieira.

In what can be seen as a vote of confidence by trade and consumers for Portugal’s roster of characterful indigenous varieties, still wines have overtaken fortified as the main driver of growth, with DO wines in the ascendancy.

"What we are seeing are signs that consumers are paying a bit more to consume Portugal, which is good news for us, and looking for quality, for DO wine,” said Vieira.

The UK is Portugal’s third largest export market for fortified and unfortified wines combined, and sixth if Port is removed from the equation. It is still considered an important shop window to show the world a portfolio of characterful and often great value wines that have in the past often slipped under the consumer radar. 

However, this is changing and changing fast, according to importers, with a combination of factors, such as Lisbon and Portugal’s current status as a fashionable destination for discerning travellers, along with ViniPortugal’s education programmes that have been running with independent merchants and sommeliers, helping drive engagement with the wines.

Strong promotional activity by regions including Vinho Verde and Tejo, along with the ascent of unfortified Douro wines – able to trade off Port’s quality reputation – have also helped raise Portugal’s profile.

“Consumers know a bit more about Portugal and, in part as a result of investing in a lot of education for the trade, in independent stores, we are now seeing the result. And tourism is helping a lot, we are receiving more and more people in Portugal, and when they return home, they want to share new things that they have discovered, and that includes the wines,” said Vieira.

The Wines of Portugal Grand Tasting at RHS Lindley Hall brought together 79 producers, including established brands in the UK and those seeking representation, showing over 400 wines from 12 different regions, with over 600 visitors attending the show.