Producer

José Maria da Fonseca

Country

PORTUGAL

Region of production

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Appellations

Península de Setúbal, Alentejo, Douro Valley

Founded

1834

Climate

Península de Setúbal: Mediterranean with maritime influences Alentejo: Mediterranean Douro Valley: Continental

Soil composition

Península de Setúbal: Sandy soils with clay-limestone Alentejo: Granite Douro Valley: Schist

Vineyard

650 hectares owned. Sourced grapes from selected suppliers.

Agriculture

Sustainable viticulture

Production Volume

45% white wine, 55% red wine

Varieties Grown

Ages of Vines

Average of 30-year-old vines

Behind the Wines

Domingos Soares Franco

Born in 1956, Domingos Soares Franco is the 6th generation of his family to manage the José Maria da Fonseca winery. Domingos made a name for himself as the first Portuguese winemaker to graduate from the prestigious University of California, Davis winemaking program. Domingos comes from a long line of innovators. His studies and his passion for excellence in winemaking led him to establish a team of hand-picked oenologists to work on a wide range of research projects and experiments at the winery.

Winemaking pioneers of Portugal

In the 1850s, to the surprise of fellow wine producers, José Maria da Fonseca began bottling his Periquita range of wines. At that time still wine was sold in bulk, by the barrel, throughout Portugal. According to José Maria “it was the civilized way of presenting things”.
Access the wines of this producer

“The search for quality is key. Our yields are relatively low… and our vineyards are on average older than other vineyards in the same areas. We focus on quality rather than producing large quantities.” - António Soares Franco

 

ENVIRONMENTAL INNOVATORS

José Maria da Fonseca pioneered drip irrigation in Portugal, implementing the system in their vineyards as early as 1993. They were also among the first to grow cover crops between vine rows to retain moisture and enhance biodiversity. The soils are fertilized with grape stems and organic matter from pruning. The goal of the winery is to find a balance between technology and the preservation of natural resources.

HIGHLY PRIZED, OLD VINE VINEYARDS

While the majority of José Maria da Fonseca’s vineyards were replanted in the late 1980s to early 1990s, the estate boasts several old vine vineyards. In the warm plains of Alentejo, in southern Portugal, lies one of the winery’s most cherished vineyards. The Monte da Ribeira plot, in Reguengos de Monsaraz, was planted in the 1950s. It was the first trellised vineyard in Portugal using granite poles.

TRADITIONAL CLAY POT VINIFICATION

Local grape varieties Trincadeira, Aragonez and the exquisite Grand Noir grow in the Monte da Ribeira vineyard. The ancient technique of fermenting in clay pots is used here to craft authentic wines expressing a unique character typical of the region. This vinification method preserves wonderful freshness in the wine. With age, complex aromas of dates, chocolate, leather and earth develop in these exceptional wines.

 

A TREASURED FAMILY RECIPE

The traditional sweet pastries of Azeitão are a favourite of the Soares Franco family. This recipe of eggs, sugar, flour and cinnamon has been passed down from one generation of the family to next. The delicate, flaky texture and soothing sweetness pairs perfectly with José Maria da Fonseca’s Moscatel de Setúbal. This sweet, fortified Muscat is very fresh, with complex flavours derived from ageing in traditional cellars.