Who’s Who in Portugal

No traditional wine country has changed as much as Portugal. Dr Luís Antunes looks at the people and institutions driving the change.

Sogrape's The Sandeman Hostel in Porto
Sogrape's The Sandeman Hostel in Porto

Four years after the damaging 2008-09 recession, Portugal went through a political crisis which further delayed recovery. Despite major cuts in the national budget, financial problems persisted until 2016, when a new government was elected. However, even if administrations are slow to organise themselves, individuals and companies may be more resilient. Once it became apparent that Portugal’s internal market could not provide enough demand for its increasingly highly-regarded wines, producers made serious efforts to boost sales to other countries. With the help of EU funding to encourage exports, this strategy rapidly yielded good results. From a total value of €600m ($648m) in 2007, exports rose to €700m in 2012, and the momentum was sufficiently maintained for it to have risen to around €820m by 2019. 

The goal of €1bn set two decades earlier no longer seemed so unobtainable, even though the 11% increase in Portuguese exports between 2014 and 2018 was less than half the global figure of 23% for that period.

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