Bright Outlook Port Side

“It is natural that the increase of tourism in Porto, and in the region, has caused an increase of port sales,” says Manuel Cabral, IVDP president. “In the past 10 years, the traffic in Francisco Sá Carneiro airport has trebled. The port wine cellars, situated in Gaia, receive approximately 1 million tourists per year. The tourists are not only from abroad but also national tourists.”

Sogevinus ought to know what’s happening locally. Portugal is the group’s top market and makes up a massive 40% of its revenue – which is a lot for a port house. Of that 40%, the Spanish-owned, Portuguese-run group estimates 5% arrives through tourism – in fact Stefano Marello, its international business manager, says tourist sales are fast becoming a significant revenue stream. 

Sogevinus does check passports and reports that, of the 210,000 visitors to its cellars, French, Spanish, Italian and British tourists are the most numerous – perhaps pertinently, all have low-cost, direct airline connections. 

“Cálem is the most visited cellar in Porto and we had a 20%-25% increase this year,” said Marello of Sogevinus. “We also have our Burmester tourist cellars which are open from May to October, the Kopke store and Sogevinus Wine House.” 

Over at Sogrape there are similar reports. Commercial manager Júlio Martins says in Portugal “there is a noticeable growth of premium port sales, no doubt also driven by visitors”. 

He adds: “In our port wine cellars, together with Quinta do Seixo, we welcome around 300,000 guests every year – wine tourism is definitely an important business for Sogrape.” 

The Fladgate partnership’s (Taylor’s, Croft and Fonseca Ports) CEO Adrian Bridge says: “We are reaping great rewards from our investment in wine tourism with The Yeatman producing 34% growth over 2012 figures. These visitors are also looking for port when they go home.”

The domestic trend

Compelling evidence indeed, but let’s not forget the Portuguese. Jorge Dias, president of Gran Cruz, which is owned by French group La Martiniquaise and operates the category’s largest brand, Porto Cruz, says it has increased sales 20% in Portugal this year and is now the third largest domestic brand. “This is a good year for port in Portugal,” he says. “Wine is in fashion for young people. So it is now our opportunity to put port wine back in fashion. Port producers have increased the quality and decreased quantity over the years.

 “Supermarket brands represent 33% of sales worldwide but in Portugal it is 40.5%, which shows that consumers have a connection with port.”

In Portugal, Sogevinus has the Portuguese leader in Cálem, a brand that sells 2.6 million bottles annually in Portugal and recorded volume growth of 9%. But the group’s marketing director, Joana Gonçalves, says there is more to its offering than Cálem: “It is the company’s strategy to work on a continuous improvement in the sales mix, with sales more focused on value than volume, as evidenced by the continued growth over recent years of our brands Kopke and Burmester, in the premium and super-premium segments. ”